I ask this question because its an incredibly important one for a few reasons:
1. The world we live in is feeling A LOT at the moment, much more than usual. There is a lot of emotion to recognise & make sense of.
2. We don’t have great skill in this area, research tells us that on average we can discern around 3 emotions when actually we need to have fluency for around 30!
3. The stats on cases of anxiety related disorders, instances of burnout and levels of stress in our population are at a very concerning level.
So, first thing to say is, if your answer to the above question is ‘not a lot’ firstly well done for being honest & secondly that’s probably the right answer for us all. Because however skilled we believe ourselves to be in this area the world is calling for us to further cultivate this…this is a muscle in society we have not yet fully strengthened!
And, for our families & ourselves to recover well from lockdown & the pandemic of the last year we need to better our awareness & skills so we can properly process, heal and grow from what we have all been through.
Our kids are off to a fairly good start, well it’s getting better. There is more attention & time given in most schools now to emotional fluency however it’s important this is included at home too.
And also, this is a fundamental aspect of wellbeing. We have greater wellbeing when we have more emotional fluency & skill.
‘understanding emotions & learning to use them as a tool is one of the next frontiers in human learning’.
(Dan Newby & Curtis Watkins).
So, as parents what can we do:
1. Reflect: take a moment, reflect & write down what beliefs you were taught about emotions growing up. What was the story of your family when it came to having & expressing emotions?
2. Enquire: find out through curious questioning what your children’s current beliefs are about emotions & their purpose & value in your family.
3. Explore & Learn: There is a lot of great material in this area for adults and children so make a commitment to your own learning & growth & land on some useful resources to read, watch or listen to. I will be sharing some resources I rate over the coming weeks
4. Practice: because we have not fully cultivated this skill in our society yet, it requires practice, practice, practice. Make it common place in your home to name emotions, create some family rituals around recognising, expressing & regulating them. And remember this process of practicing will include failure. Growth requires us to get it wrong, make mistakes & trip up from time to time.
5. Be a role model: by this I mean being on your own journey of growth with this. You may want to access some support, get a coach or engage in learning & development in another way.
6. Be in conversation: Lets recognise that we are not yet there by honestly speaking to this without judgement, not just in our homes but with our extended families, with other parents, in groups, with our children’s teachers. Only by being in conversation can we know where we are now, where we want to get to & how we might go about bridging that gap.
You may well already be up to this work….what’s working for you? What are you finding useful? What resources & materials would you recommend to other parents?
Would love to hear….