Why is talking about emotions more dreaded by parents than their kids using the F word?

“I want my daughter to understand that we have two parts to being healthy—our physical self, and our emotions.”


Pic - Kate Ter Haar | Flickr

Representational image Pic – Kate Ter Haar | Flickr

I am a mother of a four-year-old.

I tell my daughter the importance of playing. I try and get across the beauty of words and healthiness of nutritious food. I tell her to eat on time and sleep well. I try and imbibe in her the importance of being healthy. Is that right? Yes, I think so.

I also try to teach her good manners. How to behave well. To respect others, their actions, thoughts, feelings and freedom. I know this is getting a little too deep, but I do it anyway. I want her to know that everyone has their likes and dislikes, their choices, and she needs to respect them. I have taught her what it is to ‘force’ someone into something. Anything.

Also, there are days, when I fail to respect and follow anything that I have taught her. There are days when someone we know closely behaves unusually. And then she asks me, “Amma, why did you/s/he do that? That is bad.” I know, I say. And I apologise. And I have tears in my eyes having realised that I did not or could not control an emotion of mine, which led to this action.

But is that enough? Isn’t it important that I explain to her that moments like this come in life? May be not now. Not when she is four years, but in a few years’ time? Shouldn’t I be telling her that we must take care of our emotions too, just like we keep our body healthy?

I want to help her understand that we have two parts to being healthy. One is our physical self, our body. And the other is our emotions. Our mental self.

You ask why this is important. Talking about emotional well-being to children is important because:

  • emotional instability could happen to you. To me. To our family members. To our children. To their friends.
  • then they know it exists. If we do not know about the existence of something, how do we recognise it? Forget, dealing with it.
  • it helps them open up. It helps children understand that emotions can be over-powering and dominating.
  • it develops a sense of respect and importance for feelings. In themselves and others.
  • it will help them listen to their own instincts. This is important. No matter what, as parents, we cannot protect our child forever.

Why is it that we do not talk about this topic to our children? Do we have a list of reasons? Hmm, shall we start with “I am not comfortable”? And, what next? Nothing much, I reckon. We are simply not comfortable discussing this subject.

Is this easy? No. Is this necessary? Oh yes, very much so.

How do we talk about emotional well-being?

  • “Emotional well-being” need not be a topic of discussion on a regular basis. Simply be open to the topic.
  • When an opportunity presents itself, talk about emotions. Stress on the existence and importance of it.
  • Short chats will do. It should be enough to help children feel “I can talk about this”.
  • Manoeuvre conversations to imply that mental illness is like any physical ailment. It could happen to anyone and in various severity levels.
  • Help children understand that how a person behaves during a mental illness is to be separated from the person’s normal self. It is simply a part of the ailment.
  • Let us start dialogues like “Are you happy?”, “Why do you look so low?”, “Are you feeling hurt/angry?”.

As parents, we need to understand that our little ones see the world through us. We are their view. So, why hinder it? As for slightly older children, both parents and teachers make up for their view of the world. And so, it is important that these topics are spoken about, at school too.

We (I) must stop this silence and talk about mental health. For the sake of my daughter, who might suffer in ignorance, at least?

What do we do if we feel our little ones need some help? If they need to talk to someone? And maybe that someone is not his or her father or mother.

Some schools have student counsellors within the campus. In other cases, we can always find counsellors in our cities. Some institutes that offer counselling support in Bangalore are

Let us express and discuss emotions. After all, we are what our emotion is.


  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A four-year-old mother. Been around for 3-plus decades. Learning new lessons and unlearning a few old ones. I try and find happiness in small things. I dream. I laugh. I cry. I hear. And I try and do. Life is all about love, laughter and light for me. more

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  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A four-year-old mother. Been around for 3-plus decades. Learning new lessons and unlearning a few old ones. I try and find happiness in small things. I dream. I laugh. I cry. I hear. And I try and do. Life is all about love, laughter and light for me. more

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