A few weeks ago, a friend and I started taking an online parenting class called “The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting” taught by author, professor and researcher, Brene’ Brown. The class is made up of four lessons, each of which have a series of lecture type videos followed by videos that have a creative, hands-on activity that support the topics being discussed. It has been great because the videos are short and you can go at your own pace. The activities are meant to be done with your kids and offer a great way to get them to start talking about topics that might not come up in “normal” conversation.
One of the lessons discusses the importance of being emotionally literate. Emotional literacy is being able to accurately identify and explain the emotions that you and others may be experiencing. In a recent study, people were asked to name as many emotions as they could. On average, people could only name three – happy, sad and angry. Brene’ goes on to say there are actually thirty emotions, including love, belonging, gratitude, curious, embarrassed, scared, disappointed, jealous and of course my favorite, joy.
I think that it is totally natural for us to default to the big three (happy, sad, angry) but being able to take it a step further and say, why am I so angry about this or why does this make me sad, is so important to teach our children. If we can help them identify the root emotion, that we can help them to better understand what they are experiencing so they can move forward.
At the end of the lesson, Brene’ suggested an activity to do with your kids to help identify and define the thirty emotions. The exercise could be done one of two ways. The first way is to take a picture of what each emotion looks like either by facial expression or through body language. The second way is to draw a series of faces, each expressing the emotion. When I shared this idea with my twelve-year-old, she said “There’s an emoji for those words!” Whichever way you choose to visualize it is fine, the ultimate goal is to be able to have something physical to look at as you have the discussion. It’s much easier to have pictures to talk about the difference between being embarrassed and scared and disappointed. It’s also much easier to talk about these words and feelings before you are in the middle of an emotional melt-down. Then when the inevitable melt-down does happen, you can pull the pictures back out and use them to help you through the conversation. We’ll be working on this project this weekend and will post our pictures when we’re done. If you’d like the full list of emotions, leave a comment or message me, I’d love to see what you and your family create!
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I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.