Saturday, April 25, 2009

Let's Talk About Feelings

This is some thing I've recently been learning the importance of, recognizing and naming your feelings and emotions. It's some thing I'm still trying to formulate in my mind, and hopefully writing this post will help. Maybe this seems basic, but honestly it's a life skill I've never aquired. And discovering it is really kind of exciting!!!!

I've always been embarressed of my emotions. Growing up I tended to be what my family called "dramatic", and I was often teased for my sudden outbursts of emotion. I had BIG emotions and people responded back to them in a big way. The message often conveyed was, "If you can't act presentable no one will want to be around you- leave".

It is true that you have to learn how to act appropriately in certain situations- there is a time and a place for things and even when venting and emotion there are certain limits needed. But the skill to use self control doesn't happen over night- and 2 and 3 year olds aren't know to have a lot of the self control! It's some thing that comes with maturity. If they are carefully taught the skill needed at that age- they will have a valuable life skill!

In an older child I understand the desire to respond withe a "that's sneough!!!". In all honesty, a long drawn out vent of anger/frustration is just plain annoying to listen to. And some one sobbing over a disappointment gets pretty old, pretty fast. BUT hearing out the vent, and reflecting the feeling being vented- will usually solve every ones problem- and if it doesn't it's okay to ask the child to go recollect themselves some where else... At least I think it is, some might disagree.

Like I said, all this is new to me (not new to many many people) but as I've been mulling over it I think 99% of the time arguments and spats happen because people are responding to the behavior (the angry yelling, sudden tantrum, loud outburst of sobbing), not what's BEHIND the behavior (sheer frustration, disappointment, hurt feelings etc.)

In middle/high school I can remember so many situations that would have ended better, between my parents and myself, they had just accepted my feelings about things and NAMED the emotions for what they were- emotions! I don't blame my parents, they didn't know any better- honestly the whole thing seems kinda gushy. I honestly can't imagine my Dad saying, "I can see you're feeling disappointed that we said no, I'm sorry but we needed more warning that you needed a ride to _________. Next time try to make plans in advance" haha really can't imagine it at all.

Or as a child when I started to throw a fit (which I quickly learned NOT to do because it resulted in a quick and sudden spanking) instead of stopping the behavior (the tanrum) I wish I had heard "I know you're angry that you don't get to ________. Instead of yelling about it try using words to describe the feeling." (<~~ Not a great example, I'm still learning exactly what I would have rather heard back than the spanking).

This is some thing I'm really trying to recognize in situations and take steps vent the emotions approrpriately- instead of bottling them. I've really been learning how much I've closed off myself from feelings- feelings aren't bad- it's what you do with them...And you can't know what to do with them untill you recognize and NAME them.

I think the biggest problem was that venting your emotions just wasn't allowed in our house growing up. If I cried in anger over some thing I was told "that's ENOUGH!!!!!", tantrums just plain weren't allowed to happen, a start of a tantrum restulted in "the look" and a threat (and often follow through) of a spanking or consequence. What did this teach me? What life skills was I really learning about handling my feelings and emotions. Well I learned that emotions were bad, and that they annoyed people, and were best stuffed deep down, un- named. I don't think that's what my parents were trying to convey, but that's what was conveyed.

I think I struggle with this part the most because I'm raising my daughter in the same house as my mother. Mom still has the same thoughts on tantrums as she did when I was growing up- they are unacceptable. I agree that tantrums aren't the best way to vent your emotions...But expecting a 2 (or 3, 4,) year old to immediately jump from this huge feeling that they don't know what to do with, to simply saying "I feel ANGRY" is just plain rediculous. They feel things with every ounce of their being, and it fills them up so much that their immature little self melts to the floor completely taken over by the feeling. They have to be consistantly and carefully TAUGHT how to recognize what the feeling inside IS...And WHAT to do with it.

I've been noticing this with my not quite 16mos old. This past week she has really upped the "reactions" (I wouldn't call them tantrums)... She is removed from some thing she shouldn't be doing, and she immediately goes limp in my arms and lets out a shrill yell. Instead of saying "RJ STOP!!" or thinking "I'm the parent! How dare she defy me?" I have been trying to get in her shoes- what is she feeling? What can I show her about this feeling, even at her young age? How can *I* as the grown up help? I'm still learning about reflecting- and honestly some times I just ignore the shrill yell and quickly distract her (she is only 16mos after all)- but I do try to name the feeling as often as I can "You're disappointed we had to leave the [grocery] cart. Let's wave 'bye bye' to the cart lets go find our CAR!!!! [in excited voice]" and I try to make a mental note not to swoop in with out warning or explanation in the future (RJ needs me to tell her I'm going to take her out of the cart- she really enjoys the ride- slow down and give her a warning).

Like I said, I'm still learning- and this post probably seems silly but I really think it helped me process it all.

I reallly need to write my "Mommy Missions Statement"- I am going to start drawing that up tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to hear from you! :0)