Teaching Children How to Feel

If you aren’t a member already, be sure to sign up for the Channeling Erik Facebook Group by clicking HERE. It’s by invitation only so it’s private. That makes it a safe place to share subject matter like this. The group is wonderful: caring, insightful and funny.

About this post: having raised five children, this is perhaps the most important subject for me. I learned from my mistakes early on because I love my children so, so much that I wanted to be the best mother I could. They’re worth that. I never became perfect, but I tried. 

Me: How do we teach and encourage our children to feel first?

Jamie repeats the question to herself.

Me: Give us some tips.

Erik: First of all, it’s gotta be in the right language.

Me: For example?

Erik: For example, when your kid falls down, you don’t say, “You’re okay. You’re okay,” to get them focused on being okay.

Me: Let them think for themselves, yeah.

Erik: Yeah, let them think for themselves, but better yet, let them feel. “Do you feel okay? Take a deep breath. Check in with your body. How do you feel?” There are two ways of feeling. There’s the emotional feeling and there’s the physical feeling, right?

Me: Mm hm.

Erik: Let’s say their body is in pain, so they feel pain. Then you ask them, “Well, do you feel okay about that? Are you fine with it? Are you scared? Is there something that we need to address?” Getting them to talk about how they feel will help them be able to rely on identifying how they feel first, and then think about it second. And once they’ve got that down, you can be a—

Jamie: Wait, what?

Erik: Assured. You can be assured that your child is going to react out of an emotional need rather than out of an analytical or manipulative need.

Me: Mm hm.

Erik: They’ll start to choose to do what makes them happy because they know that feeling is best for them. They’ll choose to react out of compassion rather than the ego. The second thing you do with your kid is—

Jamie bursts out laughing at what Erik just said.

Jamie: He just shouts, “Hellooo!”

Me: Why?

Erik: Experience. Set an example. Show them what it looks like by actually sharing how you feel about something.

Me: In other words, modeling that.

Erik: Yeah, when you go to talk to your kids and you’re so fucking frustrated for whatever shit they just pulled on you, you just sit down and look at them before you go to smack ‘em or—

Me: Oh!

Jamie: He just showed me a smack on the bum.

Erik: –or send them to their room or yell, say, “I feel so frustrated. I feel so disappointed, and then explain why you are having that feeling.

Me: Wow, this is exactly the kind of stuff I write in my book, Hearing is Believing: How Words Can Make or Break Out Kids.

Erik: Mom. Mom.

Me: Uh huh?

Erik: Mom.

Jamie laughs.

Me: Yeah, yeah, yeah?

Erik: We should copy a few paragraphs from your book and just pop ‘em in there.

Me: Yeah. Instead of saying, It“I’m so proud of you,” because that’s just making kids think, “Oh, I need to keep doing whatever will make her proud,” you ask, “I bet you’re proud.” That way they’ll reflect like, “Yeah, I guess I am proud, and this is why.” So, they learn to self-evaluate and use their internal compass instead of learning to choose their actions and feelings from external sources and seeking approval from others.

Erik: Yeah.

Me: The book is all about communication, and it deals with a lot about feelings, too, which is kind of like that book you like, Erik. Nonviolent Communication. Instead of attacking the kid like saying, “You’re making me mad,” or whatever, which will just put them on the defensive and make them feel resentment and anger, focusing all their attention on how mean you’re being, you can say, “I feel mad when people say things like that.” That way, you’re just expressing how you feel rather than placing a personal attack on them. You want them to think things like, “What did I do to make this person feel that way.”

Erik: Yes, and by attacking them, you’re also teaching them that they need to live their lives to make you feel better, so the kid loses his insight on how to gauge his joy, his happiness, who he is—

(Pause)

Jamie (to Erik): The what?

Erik: Another thing to help them feel more emotionally connected as emotional beings is to have interactions with other living things. (All gangster) What, what?

Jamie and I laugh.

Erik: Put down the freaking iPad. Put down the phone. Put down the computer, the keyboard, the TV, you know, and go sit with a tree. Look at an ant. Go play with your little brother. Set it up to where your kid can actually interact with other living beings.

Me: Life, yeah.

Erik: Life. Bingo. Period. Life.

Me: Yeah, that’s all we did during our free time. We played outside. It helped us exercise our imagination, too. We learned how to negotiate, lead, follow, compromise, share, deal with frustration and things like that that kids don’t learn. You know the inability to deal with frustration is one of the biggest predictors of future drug abuse.

Erik: Yeah, why are kids being locked inside these days? It’s so bizarre. Everybody’s afraid that their child is going to be picked up by some hawk and carried off or kidnapped. Yeah, there are more people in the world, and, yes, our news likes to focus on that, but if you’re having a human experience with your kid, guess what, you need to be outside with them. You don’t send them out with a little wristband GPS on them.

Me: Paranoid Parenting. That’s a great book. There’s more of a chance of you causing harm to the child by raising them that way than something serious happening to them. So, anything else on how to teach kids how to feel first?

Erik: Nope.

Me: What can schools do to help encourage the children to feel first?

Jamie: He’s rubbing his hair with his hands. He doesn’t have a hat on today.

Erik: Mom, don’t fucking get me started. School systems get me so fucking irritated. I don’t mean to react that way.

Jamie: He’s talking about public schools.

Erik: I gotta give it to the teachers, man. There are brilliants teachers out there, and I stand up and applaud them because they’re making the biggest difference. The system is not. They’re not trusting ‘em. I swear, if I had a ton of money, I’d close down the public schools, and I’d start to make them private.

Me: Yeah, charter schools.

Erik: Charter schools, yeah. Hell, yeah.

Me: There should be a spiritual school where you can teach kids early on how to meditate, for example, so that they could get in touch with their feelings, learn how to ground themselves, all that kind of stuff, right?

Erik: Yeah, and if people are going to freak out hearing, “My kid goes to a spiritual school,” shit, let’s just name it after somebody like we always do.

Me: Oh, yeah. Of course.

Erik: “My child goes to Roosevelt school and they meditate in the morning.” They can learn communication skills. They can learn about nonviolent communication. And you know what? for your child to go to that school, your parent or parents or grandparents, whoever raises them has to show up x amount of time or x amount of hours per semester to take a class to learn how to continue that education or else your child can’t fucking go there. They gotta go somewhere else.

Me: I like that idea.

Jamie: That would be cool.

Me: Yeah, you could even teach them how to heal themselves energetically at least in the higher grades. They could learn how to heal others, too. You could have electives in high school like Reiki. Hopefully that will happen one day.

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Elisa Medhus


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  • Jean

    Absolutely fantastic information and so right on! This is what we are learning in our Emotional Freedom (EFT tapping) group – how to feel, listening to our bodies. We have all grown up thinking teachers, parents, etc knew and we had to follow the rules so we lost track of our feelings. But our bodies told us with spastic colons, headaches, aches and pains. We’re learning to listen to our bodies and asking it what it’s trying to tell us.

  • Patrick

    Great post, great advice Erik.

  • Aurora

    Hi!

    I am new to this blog, and this is the first post I’m reading. I just got a copy of the book Chanelling Eric in my language, and I just started reading.

    Thank you for this post. This is a very important and interesting topic, and actually – if I may say this – I would love to read more about how we can help our children to grow up to be loving, harmonious and happy individuals seeking for love rather than the opposite. Thank you 🙂

    • Welcome, Sweetie. I hope you make your way through the archives because some of the information is incredibly insightful, often jaw dropping. I’m just like all of you–traveling that path to absorb all I can.

      • Aurora

        Thank you! I’ll make sure to have a look in the archives 🙂

  • Jody

    Wish I had known this when my kids were young, now I’ll use it with my grandkids. Thanks Erik!

  • suphouse

    This is awesome!! Amazing!! And I sooo agree!! I wish I knew so much more of this when my kids were young. During those informative years. Now they just assume I am stupid half the time.

    • Didn’t Mark Twain say something like that, that our IQ drops 20 point when our kids are teenagers only to magically soar 30 points when they hit their 20s?

  • Shruti

    I am a mom to a two year old and I know how valuable this information is. I would love to bring up my child to become a person who goes by her own feelings and is true to herself. I learned to do that only after I left my parents house for studies and was away from their protection but not from their love. My parents were very protective and still are but it’s a part of their love. Before I started thinking about what I wanted I always did everything to make them happy and it was not wrong as they always wanted best for me. But it’s much more happiness doing things going by my own feelings. I think my parents are more proud of me now than they were before. So , I want my little girl to be exactly what she is from the very beginning. I would put her in a spiritual school anytime, given half a chance.

  • Cyndi

    He is absolutely right about the public school system, not to mention the fact that colleges should be offering courses of study in alternative therapies. We have our daughter enrolled in a local charter school and the difference in her confidence in just one year has been simply amazing.
    Unlike the public system, parents are encouraged to participate in the learning environment by offering their skills through an enrichment program that is mandatory for all students to attend. I have been in to teach a class on foot reflexology and zone tapping to diffuse pain .The kids loved it and had a blast working on each other.
    My daughter has informed me, however, that I am no longer allowed to volunteer at the school dances. LOL!

  • Cindy Mayer

    Thank you for the post. I believe that not only parents should get acquainted
    with this information. I am a teacher and I think that we should also take into
    consideration pupils` feelings. When I have got some experience in my
    professional career I made a conclusion that it is not enough to give help on college
    papers
    we should help our students to become happy and successful
    members of society. I have met so many people who gained success at their
    career but they were absolutely unhappy in their family life because they
    cannot express emotions.

  • EMMA

    I can’t believe how aligned this post is with my current goals. I have been working plans for over a year now to gauge interest and work towards creating an affordable private school that would teach all of this and much more. I am appalled at the poor quality of the public system. Not the teachers- they are wonderful. But when you ask them they will quietly admit they don’t agree with the system but they must deliver it. I wasn’t sure at first but more and more people I talk to tell me if I build it, they will come. Thank you so much for this confirmation Erik. And to you Elisa for sharing.

  • hemangi

    erik ,,,,,just love you ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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