Guiding Youth with the Compass of Emotional Intelligence
Updated: Aug 29
In the ever-changing world of parenting, understanding emotions is a major challenge. Kids and teens go through intense periods of growth filled with strong and changing emotions. These feelings, sometimes raw and overwhelming, can be as baffling for the child experiencing them as for the parents witnessing them. Recognizing and decoding these emotions is not just about comforting a teary-eyed child or celebrating a jubilant moment; it's about shaping their emotional intelligence, resilience, and overall well-being.
The Compass of Emotions
Understanding emotions is like having a compass for our inner world. Such identification provides clarity on our inner state, enabling us to respond to circumstances in alignment with our true selves and values.
Though emotions are vast and varied, most can be distilled into five foundational feelings: Fear, Anger, Sadness, Joy, and Shame. Let's explore the crux of each.
Fear: The Alarm System
Origin: Fear serves as a warning mechanism, activated by threats. It primes the body to either confront the threat('fight') or escape from it ('flight').
Child's Perspective: Consider your child hearing a rumor about a surprise test for which they're unprepared. The fear they experience could spur them to inquire with a teacher or to start revising as a precaution.
Anger: The Barrier Breaker
Origin: Anger surfaces when we face obstacles, motivating us to surmount them.
Child's Perspective: Has your child ever become upset when a sibling interrupted their game or when they encountered an unfair situation at school? Such emotion propels them to address the hindrance or express their grievances.
Sadness: The Connector in Loss
Origin: Sadness emanates from personal losses and can act as a beacon for others, indicating a need for support.
Child's Perspective: The disappointment stemming from not making the school's soccer team might lead your child to feel dejected, prompting them to either hone their skills or seek comfort from friends and family.
Joy: The Celebration of Gains and Bonds
Origin: Joy mirrors personal accomplishments or the establishment of significant affiliations.
Child's Perspective: Praise for a school project or forming a bond with a new friend can evoke joy in your child, motivating them to continue investing effort in their endeavors and nurturing robust relationships.
Shame: The Guardian of Social Bonds
Origin: Shame functions as a moderator, ensuring we uphold our social ties and refrain from actions that might estrange us from our community.
Child's Perspective: Recall a time when your child might have cheated during a game and was caught, or perhaps fibbed and was exposed? The downcast eyes and averted gaze manifest their shame, hinting at their comprehension of the repercussions of jeopardizing social connections.
While the evolutionary underpinnings of emotions lay a groundwork, it's crucial to acknowledge the distinct challenges our adolescents grapple with. Peer interactions, scholastic stressors, and puberty's onset amplify emotions during these formative years. Nonetheless, grasping the essence and intention of these emotions can empower parents to guide their children in healthily managing and articulating their sentiments.