Children do not enter into this world knowing how to work through strong emotions. Quite a few conditions actually need to exist for us to foster in kids the ability to deal with their emotions in healthy ways. Without this ability, when difficulties in life happen, we risk kids learning to shut down their emotions, or to fear their emotional reactions, or perhaps to view them as a sign of weakness and grow angry at themselves. If we could help kids learn healthy ways to be with their emotions, I believe they will grow to be stronger, more compassionate, content individuals. I also believe their communication patterns and relationships will improve.
The reality is that many children are not learning how to be with their strong emotions. The world we live in bombards us with messages that can be confusing (show this emotion but not that emotion; this emotion is good but that one is bad; keep calm; don’t show your fear, and so forth).
The good news is that a lot of great researchers (such as Daniel Siegel) are publishing books for parents on how to foster these skills in kids. Some teachers have even started teaching these skills in schools with the MindUP program and Zones of Regulation. The great news is that a lot of people want to learn these skills – including kids. I am so pleased to be a mentor at the Vernon Community School – helping youth aged 12-15 learn the skills to understand their emotions, be with their emotions, and respond to their emotions differently. Each week I’ll post an overview of what we talked about, so that the group (and anyone else who is interested!) can refer back and refresh their learning as needed!