Growing up my mom used to say, “feelings are not right or wrong, they just are.”
I think that it’s easy to see how others respond emotionally to a situation and think, “they shouldn’t be feeling that way.” But you know what? Their feelings are not wrong. Many times we can’t help how we feel.
I talk to my students a LOT about feelings. We talk about how our actions might make others feel. We talk about how good choices make us feel good inside and bad ones make us feel bad inside. We also talk about how it’s okay to feel mad, or sad, or hurt.
I remember one day a few months ago our lesson talked about getting mad and how we deal with those feelings. As I told the kids that it’s OKAY to get mad every child became perfectly still and all eyes were on me. There are times when kids are listening completely and absorbing every.single.thing you are saying. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does if feels almost magical! I told them that feeling upset, mad and angry was normal. I told them that even I feel that way sometimes. I told them that feeling that was is okay. They took it all in.
I took the opportunity to take it further. I then proceeded to talk about what we do with those feelings. I told them that while it is okay to get mad it’s not okay to react certain ways. They listened as I told them that it’s not okay to hurt someone, or break something, or yell at other people. We proceded to talk about some acceptable ways to deal with anger. The kids shared how they cope with those types of feelings. One student said he liked to hug someone. Another student said he likes to go to his room and be away from everybody. Another student talked about how it helps relieve his anger if he can run or move his body. I let them know that those were all great ways to deal with anger. I told them that there have been 3 or 4 times in my life when I felt so angry that I couldn’t take it. I told them that I liked being alone, just the way that one of them had talked about. I also told them that those few times I put my face in my pillow and I screamed! I screamed as loud and as long as I could. The kids chuckled, but I knew they were really thinking about it.
It’s healthy for kids to hear that adults have feelings just like them. It’s good for them to know that they aren’t alone in the way that they feel. It’s also really good for them to hear the right way to deal with those feelings.
I read this article the other day. I thought it was really good. That’s actually what got me thinking about all this.
Talk to your children and students about their feelings and reactions. Just remember that the heat of the moment is not the best time to talk about it. Talk about it afterwards or when you have time in the car. It’s hard to think and take in new ideas when you are feeling emotionally charged. Let your kids know that their feelings are normal and brainstorm good ways to deal with them. Hey! You could even talk to your peers or spouse about it since everyone has feelings–they are a part of life and aren’t going anywhere.