10 April, 2013

Emotions and boys

On Monday I went to a one-day Kanto Plains OMF ladies retreat. It was a lovely day! We not only got to catch up with one another, but we heard three talks from three of our own about health: physical, spiritual, and emotional. I think of myself as fairly healthy in general, but it was good to review these areas and think about them from different angles.

One thing that I found particularly helpful was in the "Emotional Health" segment. Our speaker spoke about how important it is to name our emotions. That is something that I do quite naturally, especially when I find myself feeling out-of-sorts, I'll think and think until I've traced the source of the unease. Once I've done that I can usually name the feeling and, hopefully, do something about it.

But I realised that there are others in our house that aren't so good at this. In fact probably everyone else except me. Is that a male thing? I learnt a long time ago not to ask my husband how he's feeling unless he's been ill. I usually get a confused and slightly panicked look from him!

My boys are each quite different in emotional responses. We have one drama king. We have another who's passionate and explosive and a third who's generally very calm, but when frustrated can dissolve into tears.

I described one emotional incident of one of our non-teenagers to the mother of a teenage girl and she was amazed, "Sounds like a teenager to me!" she declared. This same boy is very resistant to talking about his feelings. Not just unable or reluctant, but often down-right hostile. If he's in a good mood it's okay, but that is probably the exception.

So, given this poor emotional awareness in my family, I was pondering how I could help my guys with naming their emotions.

Our speaker gave us a page with lists of emotions. As I pondered and prayed over this dilemma, I realised that my boys love words. And one of them, the explosive one, loves lists of words. We have many little notebooks around the house that have lists of things he's begun (like lists of names, or of materials you can make things from, or of aliens). So I began to think that a list of emotion-words might be something of interest, rather than scorn.  I only managed to get one of the pages from our speaker (there were more than one), so I went Googling yesterday.

And I found this amazing page called Vocabulary of Emotions. I haven't counted the words on it, but there's more than two hundred words on this one page. There are some great words like: crestfallen, zippy, tickled pink, invalid, huggy, goose-bumpy.

I was right. This paper has been welcomed and discussed. I'm home on my own with our teenager right now (the others are at karate). While I washed up, we had a discussion about emotions. It was an issue for him when he was wrestling. A disappointment or surprise affected his emotional stability and ability to focus. So I asked him to name the emotions he had, particularly at those key moments that he remembers well: a loss that took him by surprise, a win that he didn't expect, etc. He was able to name lots of emotions using this chart. As I've typed, he's even used the list to help him with his homework (he's writing a narrative poem English about learning to ride a bike).

The page is posted on the wall beside the dining room table. I'm hoping that I'll be able to initiate many more discussions on emotions in the weeks and months ahead.

How do you teach these things at your house? Or is it something that's come naturally to your family?

1 comment:

Evangeline said...

I'm printing out this list for my (advanced) English class! They'll be elated. :D