Friday 15 December 2017

Why aren't we teaching our children how to recognise their emotions?

I was recently talking to a good friend about how to teach children about their emotions and it really got me thinking.

Why aren't we, and I'm talking about parents in general, teaching our children how to recognise their emotions? Some of us are doing it, some are not.

We are not born with the inherent ability to recognise and respond to our own emotions. This is a skill that begins to develop from birth. New born babies begin to learn about their emotions just through their parents responding to their cries. Children further develop these much needed skills through the interactions and relationships that they have with their families, caregivers, peers and their teachers.

From a young age we teach our children, I know that I have anyway, about their feelings and those of others. We teach them how to identify their own feelings and communicate their feelings to others.

Children's brains grow at a very rapid rate and all children are constantly noticing, reacting, adapting and developing ideas based on their emotional experiences. This year at my previous work place I was doing quite a bit of work with the Kindy children in my care on BIG emotions. After only a few sessions on how we could calm ourselves down if we were sad, mad or angry, the children were putting into practice and reminding each other of what we had spoken about. It was truly wonderful to see. Three to five year olds genuinely concerned for their peers, reminding each other to take some deep breaths and walking away from situations that were making them mad, sad or angry.

Recognising and responding to one's own emotions is a skill that is important for developing a child's ability to interact successfully with those around them and with their physical world. It is a skill that they can carry with them through life.

So why is it that when children reach school age, this aspect of their development is rarely spoken about in the formal education setting or taught for that matter?

I know with O in previous years, she has come home from school talking about being taught ways in which she can brush off bullying but rarely did she come home talking about lessons on identifying emotions.

This is the first year that she has come home talking about what different emotions can look and feel like!

If we equip our children, our teenagers, our young adults, with an emotional education, then hopefully we can dramatically improve the quality of their lives in the future.

All too often in the media you hear about teenagers and young adults taking their lives. The majority of these sad stories are due to the individual being bullied at school. Bullying drastically affects the emotional state of an individual. And as children grow older, it seems somewhat of a taboo subject to talk about ones emotions.

When we teach children about emotional intelligence - how to recognise their feelings, assisting them to understand where these emotions come from and how to deal with these emotions - it makes sense that we are teaching them some of the most essential skills for their success in life. Teaching emotional intelligence will also assist in getting rid of the taboo label.

Our own emotions and those of others can have a profound influence on the way that we live our lives. We need to acknowledge the influence that one's emotional state can have not only on ourselves but also on others.

By taking the taboo status away from talking about emotions, perhaps we will be able to inspire a new attitude in future generations towards this subject and in turn about mental health issues.

As parents if we don't have a healthy way of handling our own emotions, then we may have issues in teaching our own children about how to handle their emotions.

The change really needs to start with us.


  1. This is why we talk about our feelings.

  2. Your right, this is very important to teach our children. My kiddos are very young so were experiencing a lot of emotions right now.

  3. Yes this is so important! As a teacher I taught this all the time, and I love working with my son on this stuff! Thanks for the reminder :)

  4. This is such an important topic about teaching emotions to our children. Not just teaching they need to identify, understand their emotions as well.

  5. This is so important in our household. Because with 4 boys they all have so many different emotions at different ages and I think it helps so much by explaining to them what it all means.

  6. I agree with you , This is so true "As parents if we don't have a healthy way of handling our own emotions, then we may have issues in teaching our own children about how to handle their emotions.

    The change really needs to start with us." Parents should understand the importance first . Thank you for sharing !

  7. I'm with you. It's so important to make sure we both model and teach our children to identify and deal with our emotions.

  8. I am so happy you wrote this! As a school counseling student, I find this post incredibly appropriate and helpful. Thank you!

  9. Teaching kids to recognize and process their emotions is so important!


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