It has been scientifically proven that we are wired, by evolution, to feel the primary emotions in order for our survival. Over many generations’ we humans have, out of conditioning and modelling, assigned basic emotions with events/situations and even genders in life. Let’s say, for example, we are supposed to cry if we lose a loved one, becoming a mother is supposed to be joyful, marriage is supposed to be “day of happiness”, it’s okay for girls to cry, but not okay for boys, etc. We grow up internalising these associations.
Our journey from childhood to adulthood is consumed by learning these conditioned assigned meanings – be it at home, in movies or television. And when such big events actually happen, we don’t know how to cope. We may feel lost, scared, overwhelmed, incompetent.
This is why emotional education in our childhood holds utmost importance in making emotionally rational and resilient human beings. Our education system keeps failing us every time it gives academics and discipline an upper hand over emotions. Because, when it comes to real life, academics and discipline won’t come to our rescue from our suicidal thoughts when we lose a loved one to death or heartbreaks. Our academics and discipline won’t save us from coping with traumatic events of this cruel world. They will not be here to hold our hand and walk with us in our fight from a long-term sickness. Neither they will pick us up from a failure in a marriage or career.
What if someone doesn’t cry when they lose a loved one? What if they become catatonic or shout or scream? What if someone is unhappy to be a mother? Can we say what they are feeling is wrong? How a teenager is supposed to understand that his/her parents divorce is a decision for their betterment?
Balancing your emotions appropriate to the situation is one of the life skills no one talks about. Emotional education is not just limited to improving emotional vocabulary and empathising with each other,
but it is learning about life time practise of homeostatic play
to cope with stressful events in a healthy way.
It contributes in academic benefits as well as build safety and security within us to form trusting relationships.
Following points can explain the importance learning about emotions in our childhood education system:
Building trusting relationships
From emotional connection with parents and at school with a teacher or friends, a child feels encouraged and confident to initiate communication in the outside world. Especially the kids who feel shy. With receiving emotional education at younger age, it teaches the child the skill to do difficult conversations as adults. Difficult conversation with complete empathy. This skill is so much needed to become successful compassionate leaders (in professions like doctors, civil service officers, teachers, etc) Knowing one’s emotions, primes child’s brain in a way that growing up, he/she practises to be more intentional of the emotional consequences of their words and actions. Emotional awareness helps to a better connection with self and intuition, making an individual more perceptive of another person’s responsive.
A famous Neurologist Antonio Damasio, in his book “Descartes’ Error” (1995) talked about how intellectualization is assumed to be separate entity/process from emotionality.
But the fact is Cognition actually rests on edifice of emotions. The best learning happens in a balanced emotional being. Ask yourself, will I be able to perform better when I am anxious and depressed or when I am at peace or happy? Even if a child receives knowledge about how emotions can make you feel when he/she has an exam date coming near or a classmate bullying, etc., he/she will be able to tap their potential of communicating their problems better instead of shying away from it or impulsively reacting on them.
Our emotional (mammalian) brain – thalamus, hypothalamus, amygdala is what we are gifted with, by evolution. Whenever our nervous system feels stress, our emotional brain hijacks our thinking(evolved) brain (pre-frontal cortex). This thinking brain is what is responsible for our logical reasoning, language, decision making, personality, being able to differentiate b/w right and wrong, creativity, intuition. This thinking part of our brain keeps growing till the age of 25. So, as it can’t be highlighted enough, that in our growing years, how essential it is let a child’s thinking brain develop with all the emotional awareness, so that it can control and logically process what the emotional brain is doing to our body.
This thinking brain – pre frontal cortex is the reason why human beings are referred as – homo sapiens (human who can think). But, how can we think and process about something which we are neither taught, not aware of?
It’s every child’s ethical right to know what happens inside their body when they get to sing, dance, play, be creative? What happiness feels like. Then only a child will better be able to learn and communicate about their emotions of sadness, anger, fear – if they understand what it feels like?
One of the prime reasons that major percentage of child sex abuse and bullying cases end up being unreported is because if a child is too scared to understand what is happening, how will he/she be able to communicate it as right or wrong?
No part of intellectualization is separate from emotionality.
Growth towards our Authentic Version
An emotional being is very much connected to their visceral system of their body, i.e., their heart, lungs, digestive system. They are conscious of internal signals such as when their stomach is empty or full, when they should get up and pee, how their breathing is making them feel inside.
The brain itself is an organisational entity that brings together information that’s coming at it from outside and from the inside at same time. Brain receives more messages from inside of body than from the outside. These messages that are received from the inside has a lot to do with how well we can engage the external world.
So, our capacity to pay attention and to learn is based more on what’s happening internally on visceral and emotional level.
And in the society where people are connected less and less with the gut feelings, visceral states, there is less and less engagement with the realities of external world. Even though we are externally focus, that focus is acted in a less efficient manner due to this disconnection. This is why as adults, we learn that even after living a nutritionally healthy life, stress is leading to heart problems, to psycho-somatic problems such as IBS, Migraines, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, auto-immune diseases, etc.
Ever wondered, where does this stress comes from suddenly as we grow up? This arises from all stored-up emotions from our childhood that we were not made aware of. Stored up emotions that manifest in physical aches and pain and also pervasive emotional states of resentment and loneliness. We don’t have to let our children or our future generation go through what we went though. This is how much of a difference is our evolving growth “emotional education in our childhood” can make.
To lead a Healthy Life
Nowadays, childhood toxic stress is racing high. When a child experiences strong, frequent and prolonged adversity without adequate adult support, he/she may have life time lasting changes on child’s brain development, on immune system, higher likelihood of substance, mental illness, even shorter life expectancy.
Be it in school or at home, children are ridiculed, scolded or punished if their behaviour or emotional expression is out of place. Sometimes, to the extent that most children diagnosed with clinical disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Opposition Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Conduct Disorder (CD).
From another perspective, not giving emotional education it’s importance and denying the emotional needs of our littles ones – this is how it makes them feel!
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