The Story of Feelings
The name of this blog is actually the name of a book by Laurie Berkner. It is a children’s book that talks about feelings and gives children a description of what they may be feeling, when I cry I am sad and crying makes me feel better. Laughing makes me feel better, when I am happy, yelling when I am angry is okay and makes me feel better.
I am fortunate to work with preschoolers on a daily basis! I know some of you will find it hard to believe that I truly adore these three to five-year olds so much. There is probably not an age that is nearly this honest, this inquisitive, or this innocent in so many ways. Trust me I have meant a few kiddos who seem to be a bit too precocious for their wee years, yet even in that, it is usually due to exposure out of their control and I feel that still spotlights their innocence in the matter.
The Story of Feelings is a book that we use in our classroom along with a cd that has an awesome calming song that soothes even our toughest three-foot clients. Today while singing along to this with the children it spurned me on to think of how disingenuous we become as adults about our true feelings. It is funny because when we are children we are taught the importance of honesty. If you lie you are probably a bad child, you will have some unpleasant consequences, maybe you will even go to a bad place. But, little Johnny or Suzie, “honesty is the best policy”. Really? Of course, we don’t want our children to be anything but truthful. Really?
“Young children can be blatantly honest. With statements and questions such as these. ” They are reallllly old!” “You can’t sing!” “They look like this >.< (furrows eyebrows) and so I don’t want to play with them!” “Your skin is black.” “They are a boy/girl and I don’t want to play with them!””You’ve got a big butt!””They are a boy so they have a penis, right?” “I don’t like you.” “You look wrong.” You have this or that or you don’t have this or that. So many honest comments.
In time, kids discover that you can’t really be honest about things, least of all your feelings. Of course we all need to teach our children the social graces of when it is okay to say things or ask things. But it isn’t long before we teach them to stifle how they feel as well. Have you ever seen someone punish their child and then tell them not to cry about it? Wow!
In our classroom we discuss feelings a lot. A daily question is “how are you feeling today?” Well how do you answer that question? Nine times out of ten you say “fine”. That is the prescribed answer isn’t it? That is what we say and that is what people hope to hear because then they can say they are fine too and move on with their day. We all do it, our children hear it. They learn it. So our children become conditioned to answer in the same manner. “I am fine.”
This is so ingrained that I don’t know how much we can change, but I do think that I am going to make a conscious effort to think before I answer this question the next time I am asked it. Well at the very least maybe I can come up with a different adjective that means fine. It sound like this, “Hi, how are you?” ” Satisfactory, thank you.”
Okay my writing is digressing, my teenage daughters are discussing their day and well, I don’t want to miss out. Maybe I will ask them how they are and see what they answer! Also I will try to link the “feeling song” before I post this.
You Know What It’s Like – Jane