Learning about emotions

March 18, 2008 at 2:19 am | Posted in All about little boy | Leave a comment

From what i understand, boys tend to have more difficulties than girls growing up, because of the culture that reinforces the idea that boys must be tough, cannot cry, cannot express their emotions or they will be acting like girls, etc, that makes it hard for boys to cope with challenging situations, forcing them to “act out” through violence, drugs, withdrawal, etc.

Hence, i decided that it’s definitely not going to be the case for little boy, and i have been making it a point to introduce emotions to him, either through books, TV or real-life situations. For example, he loves this book which shows real-life pictures of babies and household objects. On one page, there are pictures of different babies with different emotions, such as puzzled, happy, excited, upset, etc. So far, he has not been very interested in the various emotions, with the exception of upset. Perhaps i only pointed that one out to him, and since then, he has been particularly interested in the picture, frequently pointing to it whenever we come across this page.

I will also reinforce the meaning of upset, by explaining to him whenever we see a character on TV crying – see, he is crying, he is upset, just how little boy would cry when he is upset – or whenever someone around him is indeed upset such as Mr Gua Gua or my mum.

Another emotion i have introduced to him was angry. Of cos, angry was a subset of upset, but it was worthy of mention on its own, since anger often brings so much suffering for people, including feeling guilty about being angry since people often say things like, you shouldn’t be angry, angry is bad, and it is a common thing for children, even adults, to feel bad about being angry, when the fact is, anger is a healthy emotion and just as necessary as any other emotions.

Similarly, when we see angry characters in books and TV, i will point it out to him – see, look at his eyebrows, he is angry. Sometimes i will imitate the character’s posture, such as putting my hands on my hips and frowning, and tell him, this is angry! We have one book like that, where the princess is angry at the frog for not turning into a prince when kissed (not surprising that we have such books in the house huh!), and he finds it hilarious when i imitate the princess’ angry look.

He has caught on pretty quickly. Once when i got angry at him and went into the bedroom and closed the door behind me, i heard him saying outside to whoever was listening, Mummy angry! Also, on a few occasions, he would show he is angry by turning his back on the person and putting his hands on his hips, or crossing his arms. Recently, he even learnt to put his hands on his hips with a hmph, which seems like such a familiar gesture…. ahem…. wonder who he learnt that from!

All these are just to teach him that there is a name for what he is feeling, and it’s my hope that in future, he would be able to tell us using words how he is feeling, rather than acting it out by throwing tantrums and the likes, which can be potentially destructive. At the same time, i also hope that if he knows that his actions can make people feel a certain way, he might be more considerate in his actions.

I saw a glimpse of my hope coming true this morning, when he didn’t greet my MIL after she arrived, despite my repeated instructions to him. I didn’t lecture him, or nag him about it as from my own personal experience of being lectured or nagged at, i knew this would prob make him even more resistant to complying with the instruction. But at the same time, i felt my MIL would definitely mind that little boy didn’t greet her, and she had to make the effort to come early in the morning since i had hypnotherapy class today.

So as i was preparing little boy’s breakfast and little boy was by my side, i told him to call Mak Mak, and he just went into the living room, and i thought he was going to call her, but he just looked at her and came back. So i tried again, and looking into his face, i told him seriously, little boy, go and call Mak Mak, if you don’t call Mak Mak, Mak Mak will be UPSET (emphasis on the latter). Struck by my serious tone, he looked at me intently, and i felt he was processing what i said to him. A minute later, he went into the living room and called loudly – MAK MAK!

Needless to say, i was so proud of him! Then he came back, and i didn’t make a big fuss or praised him. Instead, i told him, still in a serious way, see, you call Mak Mak, now Mak Mak is happy. And he smiled in return.

It seems like little boy can be quite considerate of people’s feelings when he wants to. Of cos, sometimes he would laugh when we pretend to cry or moan after he hits us for fun, but i think that’s cos he knew we were only pretending (the hitting however can be really painful!). But the other night, for some reason, he wanted to push me down the bed. I immediately responded by wailing, i don’t want to fall down, repeatedly, in such a genuine manner that even i was kinda surprised at my own wailing! Instantly, he wrapped his arms around me and gave me a comforting hug, even patting my back a little. But the moment i stopped wailing, he wanted to push me down again. And when i started wailing, again, he gave me his big comforting hug. We went back and forth like this a few times, and i was simply amazed that little boy can switch modes just like that within seconds – from cruelty to compassion, and compassion back to cruelty! But who knows what’s happening in a toddler’s mind anyway… i have given up on trying to understand the seemingly illogical logic, and just enjoy whatever turns up – the good, the bad, the ugly and the sweet!

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