Everyone believes that childhood is stress-free. At one point in time, we all wish, ‘If only I could go back to the carefree childhood days, without being worried about the family, future, finances etc. …’ But was your childhood really carefree?
Looking back, my childhood days were the best days of my life. But living them wasn’t carefree back then. We all had the stress of studies, projects, and more realistic stress of acing it all or the fear of failing at all. The stress of being the favourite of all the classmates, trying to fit in the biggest influential group of the college, bullying, body image issues, family expectations… We all have lived through that stress and we rarely chose to talk about it to anyone. We barely poured our heart to our soul sister or confidante, and silently accepted it as a part of life. But today, when all the information is available on a click, kids are even more vulnerable to stress and anxiety.
Whenever you ask a kid, ‘How are you feeling today?’, ‘I am good’ is the standard answer that is taught and preached to kids as young as 2 years. The kids might not be feeling good, yet they speak so. Mostly because they don’t understand their own emotions and have no words to express them either. Kids start throwing tantrums or behave inappropriately, aggressively because of the inability to express themselves.
Most parents believe that kids develop and learn emotions naturally. But NO!! Merely teaching the kids about various faces that look sad, happy, surprised, or angry doesn’t suffice. They do not understand what it feels like in the heart. Rarely or never are they taught about how to deal with them. My son is just 4 years old and he experiences the same emotions that we do. There are times when he experiences some complex emotions like angry, frustrated, nervous, and even sad. However, he doesn’t have the right vocabulary to express and communicate his feelings. As a mother, I can sense and identify his feelings. But I want to make him emotionally strong. I want him to identify his feelings and as he grows, he learns to express them as well.
So here is an activity that I have started doing to develop my son’s emotional skills. At the end of the day when we are about to doze off to bed, we write a diary. He speaks and I write. Basis his feelings through out the day, I ask him if he enjoyed, he was happy or sad. I know that one thing/ an incident he mentions at the bedtime is the closest to his heart and would possibly have an impact on him too. So we talk about it. Sometimes we even talk about it at length. For eg: One day he threw a fit when I snatched the phone from him. I believed it’s because I snatched the phone from him and he wanted to play longer on it. However, my son denied saying that he just wanted to finish his game and I snatched it midway. So we came to a consensus that once I ask him, he will finish the game and hand it over to me and not prolong the usage.
This is just the start to open a seamless channel of communication between the two of us. It is a way to make him emotionally stronger. A simple way to create his own private space (his diary) which would be his confidante. An effective way to read about his emotions,feelings and cherish the past moments. Through the diary he can track his growth over the years. It’s a way to make him realise that we laugh the most on the incidents that once made us cry (Once a 15-year-old, he will definitely laugh on silly things that is making him cry as a 5 year old.) It will also be learning lesson for him that no matter how tough the situation looks, there is a way out, and some 10-15 years down the line I would be laughing out loud on this day too. And that would add to his mental strength. Because emotionally strong kids grow up to fight the stress and not submit to it. And today, I am just making a small effort to make him a stronger self with every passing day