My son has started naming his emotions and feelings lately. He has been telling me when he is happy, sad, hurt, hungry, has to go potty, I’m hot/cold, that’s funny… etc. all things that have to do with his body and emotions. I have noticed that I have been asking him questions more often like “Are you tired?” “Are you hungry?” “Are you hot/cold?” “Are you sad?” “Isn’t that funny?”.
Now I am not teaching my son these emotions. They come naturally. Isn’t it strange how you do not have to teach a child to hit or scream but they seem to do it naturally? It is the same way with affection as well, there are certain gestures that just seem to come naturally. No, my son is not learning emotions, he is learning how to identify emotions.
In the years that I have worked around and with young adults in a therapeutic type of environment, I have observed as these young adults struggle to identify emotions. Emotions come naturally; identifying them takes practice and encouragement, as well as a safe environment where one is allowed to explore each emotion at length. There have been times when we have had to use a happy/sad/angry face chart with young people because the needed a visual image to match their emotion to so that they then could identify and then express that emotion.
Learning to identify ones emotions takes time and it takes nurturing. That is why it is so difficult when a child is not attached properly, they learn to identify their emotions wrongly or to ignore them completely.
Lately emotions have been overwhelming my son. He comes to a point where he is feeling too many or too much of one emotion and he goes on overload. It is then my job to step in, wrap him up in my arms or give him his own personal space to sit in, thus giving him a safe, secure and secluded environment where he can peacefully identify, experience and then deal with his emotions.
Jasmine is a co-housing, home birthing, missions minded, community living mama with a passion for fierce writing. She blogs.