Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Kids and emotions

What do kids learn about emotions from their parents?

Yesterday my friend, who is a student in a counselling class, told me of an interesting conversation he had with his fellow students.

The question being discussed was, "If you were a counsellor and you had two scenarios, a)A client who was very distressed and crying or b)A client who was angry with you the counsellor, which would be more difficult for you to deal with.

I assumed that everyone would answer (b) but in fact it seems that the split was around 50/50. My friend was an example of someone who would not be fazed at all if his client was angry, but would find it challenging to handle someone very distressed.

What does this have to do with kids and emotions? Well these reactions to emotions are learned at a very early age. It is worth thinking about what you might be teaching your child about emotions rather than just automatically passing on your own reactions to, for instance, anger or sadness.

Anger and sadness may both seem like "bad" emotions but this is not true. Anger is a useful and powerful resource that helps us stand up for ourselves when necessary. It can be a driving force to take us to new levels of success and achievement.

Sadness is the natural "other side" of happiness. If we were never ever sad, we could never fully appreciate happiness. And learning to express sadness appropriately and to ride it out in a healthy way rather than trying to suppress it is a very important lesson.

While it may seem like a good idea to try and squash anger or sadness in our children, it is better to teach them that all emotions are OK, and help them learn to be resourceful in dealing with whatever they are feeling.

Happy parenting.


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