Spirituality

Letting kids feel their feelings

“Don’t be nervous. Miss isn’t nervous, is she?”

This is the exact sentence I heard from a teacher to students who were about to start filming. I am not sure about the details, but they would be asked to give their thoughts on something in front of a camera.

Don’t be nervous? DON’T BE NERVOUS??

Yes, be nervous! Just don’t let it stop you from doing what you want.

Yes, be nervous! Just do it anyway.

No wonder kids are being diagnosed with ‘anxiety disorders’.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that for some people it is an actual problem that needs to be medicated. Debilitating anxiety and panic attacks are nothing to dismiss.

But for many, it is simply a lack of understanding of their emotions.

Nerves are good, it means that something is important to you. It means that you want to do well. It means that you care.

This false idea that they shouldn’t be nervous makes kids believe that their feelings are wrong, or that they are wrong for having them, and nothing could be further from the truth.

Emotions are an important part of this human experience. Without them we only get one side of the experience.

If we start ignoring our nerves, it isn’t long before we start to suppress all of our emotions, and, speaking from experience, that never ends well.

We should honour and acknowledge how kids are feeling and give them the skills to move past the less than desirable emotions and do what they need to anyway. Feelings aren’t bad, and we need to stop telling kids what they should be feeling and start working with what they are feeling.

The emotions will come out somewhere and somehow. Perhaps naming them and acknowledging them when they hit will prevent them overflowing and coming out as aggression or depression or one of the many other emotions that are destructive in excess.

Allow kids to be nervous and give them the tools to get the job done anyway.

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