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Let's Talk About Feelings


Is it necessary to discuss the topic of feelings with your children, or should you just let them learn about emotions on their own? 
 

Children are exposed to a barrage of emotions at a very early age. Some confuse them, and others sadden them. They will learn to cope with their own feelings and with those of others gradually, and own their own, but they could always do with a push in the right direction. Here's how you can go about it. 

Every time 7-year old Rati was upset with her parents or little brother, she would run into her room and bang the door shut. Her parents would just ignore her, and when it was time for the next meal, they'd knock on the door and call her. If she comes, there would be no more discussion of the topic, and her parents would pretend as if nothing happened. If she refused to come out, they'd just let her be. 'She'll come to her senses when her stomach starts growling.' Rati is now grown, and has two children of her own. While she feels an extremely close bond with her kids, she is rather detached from her parents. "I never did get close to them," she admits. "We never spoke about anything really important, and I could never discuss my feelings with them."
 

Question your children

What did Rati's parents do wrong? Instead of ignoring her 'supposed misery', they should have probed a bit into her psyche. "Why did you run into your room? What were you feeling? Were you angry at someone? What did I say that made you feel bad?"
 

Observe their behaviour

If your child seems upset over something that happened at school, don't assume she'll talk about it if she wants to. Go up to her, sit with her, and ask her what she's feeling at that moment. Are her feelings those of loneliness? Of anger? Ask her why such feelings emerged.
 

Broaching the topic

Sit with your child, and start by giving her an opening. "Your eyes tell me something is wrong." Or, "I can see you are very excited. Why don't you tell me about it?" 
 

Identify emotions

Help your children identify feelings by supplying them with a choice of emotions. Are you feeling alone? Unloved? Angry? Sad? Jealous? Do you feel as if none of your friends likes you? Do you sometimes feel we perhaps love your brother/sister more? 
 

Good and bad

Don't just focus on bad feelings. Talk about good feelings as well. Ask them when they were the happiest. Why? Share experiences. 
 

Listen

After you've asked your child a few leading questions, sit back and really listne to her. Children will open up only if they feel you are genuinely interested in what they have to say. So let your child do most of the talking. 

Remember, these formative years are not easy on any child. Kids experience a range of conflicting emotions, which confuse and upset them. While they do learn to cope on their own, if would do wonders for their self-esteem if they have a parent who they can discuss not just how the day went, but how they felt about the day.
 
 

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