Emotional Literacy for Healthier Children
Through the Mini Me Yoga programme we are encouraging children to be happier and healthier. Kate Bartram-Brown has created a programme which allows children to recognise, understand and explore emotions, living a healthier life through using mindful techniques and strategies.
This week’s blog post is written by our lovely Ambassador Nicole Dixon.
When we think of the term ‘literacy’, it is often associated with reading and writing. We all know that these are both important skill to have in life and these skills continue to grow throughout the early years and into our everyday being. Just as literacy skills are an important component of children’s overall success, emotional literacy is just as important in school and life in general. Many people are unfamiliar with the term ‘emotional literacy’ and simply put, this means to understand what we are feeling as well as what those around us may be feeling and knowing how to manage these emotions. In turn, if we understand how we are feeling, we are better able to express and manage our emotions through healthier means, we are better problem solvers, more successful, and generally happier in life. Not to mention, if children can begin to think about how others may be feeling, this would allow them to develop empathy. I could only imagine what a wonderful world it could be if everybody had more empathy for one another!
Having a great sense of self-awareness and how we are feeling allows us to be in tune with our emotions. When people can recognize how they are feeling, they can then seek support and utilize tools and strategies to help them cope with the difficult emotions they may experience in day to day life. If people are aware of healthy ways to express and manage their emotions, they are less likely to go down a path that is going to lead them to poor choices, substance use and abuse as well as running into difficulties with the law.
Throughout life we are always learning new things, growing and changing. Emotional literacy is not necessarily a skill that comes easy to many children, or adults for that matter. It cannot happen overnight. But with gentle encouragement, reinforcement and practice, it is a skill that can be developed and strengthened over time for many children.
To support children with the development of emotional literacy skills, here are some simple activities you can do at home or in the classroom:
- Play emotional charades and act out what different feelings may look like using your facial expressions and body language
- Read books that talk about feelings and what might make us feel a certain way- I love the book ‘The Way I Feel’ by Janan Cain
- Make a feelings vocabulary list and teach them multiple feelings words aside from the most commonly known sad, mad, happy and scared
- Brainstorm some things that can help your child feel better when experiencing ‘uncomfortable’ feelings
- Make some picture cards depicting various feelings and play a memory matching card game
- Talk to your child about ‘uncomfortable’ feelings that we don’t always enjoy having (sad, mad, frustrated, worried, embarrassed, etc.) and ‘comfortable’ feelings that we enjoy having (happy, surprised, excited, content, joyful, etc.).
- Talk with your child to brainstorm 3 caring adults who they feel safe and comfortable with to talk about their feelings when they are having a difficult time understanding or coping
- Encourage children to use ‘I’ Statements such as “I feel (feeling word) when (say what makes you feel this way). I need (say what you need to feel better).”
Always remind children that all feelings are very normal and okay to have and that we cannot always control how we feel, but we can control what we do with those feelings.
Nicole Dixon B.S.W., R.S.W.
Mini Me Yoga Ambassador for Western Canada
Nicole is a social worker who has worked in the field of mental health for the past 15 years. For the past 10 years, Nicole has provided mental health programming with a focus on mental health promotion and prevention. In 2016, Nicole became a Mini Me Yoga ambassador who offers community yoga classes. Nicole also facilitates Mini Me Yoga’s 2 hour workshop: An Introduction to Yoga and Positive Thinking for Kids. You can learn more about Mini Me Yoga and what Nicole offers in Calgary through her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/minimeyogacalgary/ or get in touch with Nicole at Minimeyogawithnicolecalgary@gmail.com.
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