What do we mean by emotional literacy? How can a combination of parents, schools and the wider community promote children’s emotional and mental wellbeing? Over the next few paragraphs I shall be looking at what is meant by emotional literacy. I shall examine how and why children need to be ‘taught’ ways of expressing themselves and how adults, although thinking they are shielding there children from stresses at home, could actually be suppressing their opportunities for ways of dealing with these tensions and adversity.
I shall also look at various case studies and see how schools are introducing ways for children to be more emotionally literate. Finally I will draw a conclusion on how, by being emotionally literate and resilient, children’s adult life will be affected. In the same way that we talk about ourselves as being able to read and write;0 being literate, so too, we all have varying degrees of emotional literacy. The degree, to which we are emotionally literate, therefore reflects the degree to which we are able to recognize, understand, handle and appropriately express our emotions.
Just like any other type of literacy, some of us are better at it than others. Schools and parents tend to look at only one part of a child’s life. When we look at a child’s mental and emotional well being we have to look at the whole picture. One of the main factors here is the child’s quality of life. Services and parents alike often simply try to meet children’s basic needs such as how happy they are, what they own etc, but when we are looking at their quality of life we need to do much more than this. We should be looking at helping them fulfil their full potential.
(K204, Topic 3, pg 6). Whilst we may think our child’s quality of life is good i. e. they have all of the latest games, trainers, clothes we may actually be lowering this by not giving them enough independence or taking their views as seriously as we should. During Topic 9 of K204 I carried out an activity that involved looking at sources of emotional and mental stress. Those I listed that could cause ill-health amongst adults were – stress at work, money worries, bad or broken relationships, being a single parent and having the ability to be able to fit in at work/in your social life.
Although these were the problems I thought of, they could easily be adapted to the life of my 6 year old daughter but in a different context. Whilst I try and gloss over a lot of the problems I may have so as not to affect her I am sure she is acutely aware of what is going on. By trying to shield her from these worries, I and many other parents like me could actually be suppressing opportunities for our children to develop ways of dealing with such tensions, thus improving their quality of life and helping them to become emotionally literate.
(K204, Topic 9, pg 16) As I have mentioned briefly above it is not only adults who have problems, children have to cope with serious adversity as well. How they cope with this adversity can be linked to the way in which they are taught to express their emotions and talk about problems. Negative coping strategies include things like ignoring the problem, blaming themselves and wishing it away. In this situation the child would be keeping everything in, taking the strain on themselves and possibly harbouring any guilt.