2 Aug 2012

A Lesson on Feelings.

Some time ago, I blogged about how I used a book "Teaching Emotional Intelligence" by Adina Bloom Lewkiwicz (website here) to talk to my children about Informed Choice. Since then, my children have put the information into practice  whenever they remember to. It's helped them to stop and think, before reacting or making a choice.

We've been doing bits of the book at least once a week. This week we worked on the chapter "Uncovering Feelings."

Following parts of the lesson plan provided in the book, we began by playing the Mirror game. We took turns being the leader while  the rest mirrored. Later we discussed how a mirror only reflects how one looks on the outside,  but it cannot reveal what one feels on the inside.

From there, we went on to discuss how many people really hide their feelings and only if we read their body language carefully, might we sometimes guess what they really feel. For instance, someone's who's just been kicked out of swim team might laugh and act like it's cool and he doesn't care, when in reality he's embarrassed and angered on the inside.

Then I asked my children, "Have there been situations where you've hidden your feelings, and showed something else on the outside?"

My children provided me with a few scenarios:
1) When my pet died, and I acted happy in Chinese class, when actually I wanted to cry.
2) When you asked me to apologize to my teacher for disobedience, I acted rude to you and then pretended to be brave. Actually on the inside, I was scared and wanted to cry coz I knew I was wrong.
3) When a teacher asked me to move and sit next to a new person in class. I pretended to be stubborn and put on a proud look,  but actually I was very shy to sit next to someone unfamiliar.
4) When I fell down and laughed happily, but was waiting to go home and cry.

Continuing, I asked "Why do people hide their feelings?"

My children:
1)Because they are afraid to be embarrassed
2) Because if they showed their true feelings they might loose  friends.
3) Because if people knew how they really felt, they might not get what they want.
4) They might get into trouble.
5) Because people are afraid to show they care, when they actually do care.
6) They might get murdered    (too much reading of detective stories here! haha..)

From there, we went on to draw a "Feelings Tree" which was an activity suggested in the chapter. Nel drew masks on branches showing faces people put on. The true feelings are hidden beneath the ground.


I asked her why feelings like "loving and happy" were hidden. She replied "Sometimes someone loves someone else, but they put on a proud face to hide what they feel. Sometimes someone may be happy but don't want others to know coz it's a happy secret."

Following that, we made paper masks and acted out scenes. Here's 2 very short videos of very short scenes children acted impromptu. The first is of a child who puts on a sad face to manipulate but is really happy on the inside. The second is a girl who pretends to be nice to make friends and eventually does nasty things coz she really jealous and hateful on the inside.



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We continued by talking about assumption, about assuming the worse even before anything's happened. For instance "If I show people I'm feeling lonely, they'll laugh at me and think I'm being silly, then they'll tell everyone and I'll be embarrassed." We agreed that most of the time, these assumptions will not come true.

 And then we finally ended by talking about how often, it is OK to show what you're really feeling on the inside, in fact it might really help a lot to let it out to someone you trust.

Personally, I learnt from this lesson too, as I'm one who'd rather keep feelings on the inside and show only calm on the outside. I've to learn to sometimes show like it is. I also learned through my children that in certain situations, I must practice calm and understanding to allow them to show me their true feelings.

Often parents shut down children's feelings by negative remarks and threats. When children cannot show their true feelings, where can they turn to then? To the internet? Help columns? Or worse the counsel of "fools".

 I'm thankful for today's lesson, as it created an open passage between my children's feelings and mine. I hope that in times of need, when they need to hide from the world and pretend that all's ok, that they will know that I'm here for them, that they have no need to wear masks with me, coz their feelings are safe with me.


 @poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012

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4 comments :

gail said...

What a wonderful lesson! You are helping your children to be well rounded people who live Christian values.

Divoo said...

that was a wonderful lesson, Martha! yes, we need to let/help our kids express their feelings better, so that they don't need to put on a mask in front of us... lemme say it again - your posts are very inspiring and a treat for the soul!

Aleta said...

Wow, sounds like an excellent book! Love the drawings and the way your children responded. Excellent life lessons.

Carolyn (Lil' Dahling) said...

How do you make it sound so effortless? They are so open to revealing their feelings towards you. I wish I could do that with my daughter.

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