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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