As adults, we’ve had some time to understand our emotions, what they mean and how to express them, but it can still be quite difficult. For children, it’s even harder and almost non existent as they’re still developing and not at the stage where they completely understand their emotions and how to handle them. They need to learn from us!
It’s incredibly important to help your son to identify and deal with his emotions, provide him the space and opportunity to express how he feels and teach him it’s ok to do so. Today’s society makes it harder for boys and men to express how they feel, they’re sometimes told to ‘man up’ in response to showing their emotions. From a young age it’s important to tell your son it’s ok to cry, it’s ok to talk about his feelings and if difficult emotions arise, he knows he has his father to confide in. As he grows up, it will help him become a man who feels free to express himself without judgement.
Ways to help your son identify and express his emotions
Model calm behaviour
If you’re feeling worked up, take a moment to calm yourself before responding. This will model to your son to do the same when faced with situations that are frustrating for him.
Talk about how feelings can be expressed
Set a good example and let them know feelings can be expressed through communicating and talking about it. Encourage your son to express himself whenever possible, boys feel worse when they bury their emotions.
Teach skills to nurture inner strength
This can include teaching and modelling positive thinking, self belief and self discipline.
Name the feeling
Naming each feeling is the first step to helping your son identify them. When he’s having a meltdown, calmly ask what he’s currently feeling and say it out loud. Is it sadness? Anger? Embarrassment? This helps him to become more in tune with each emotion.
Identify feelings in others
Having empathy and understanding others emotions is also important. A great way to do this is through cartoons or books.
Remove statements like “Toughen-up”. “Be a man, man-up”. “Give ‘em hell” from our vocabulary
This encourages boys to internalise their feelings and doesn’t make them feel like it’s ok to express themselves or their emotions.