Do you remember Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day? It was one of my favorite books as a child. Everything seemed to go wrong for the main character, Alexander, who was always angry because nothing went his way.
While many children (and sometimes even adults!) will yell, cry or throw a tantrum when angry, sometimes anger could be rooted in other emotions.
Think of the many types of situations which can upset children...
Being excluded by friends can lead to sadness.
Tripping in front of classmates can lead to embarrassment.
Forgetting to prepare for a quiz or test can lead to anxiousness.
Seeing a younger sibling get a privilege can lead to jealousy.
All of these feelings can lead to anger.
That is exactly what happened to Marcy in the new book, Marcy’s Having All the Feels. She wanted to feel happy, but instead, all of these other emotions kept showing up. The emotions all have individual looks and personalities (similar to Pixar’s animated film Inside Out).
It is important to help children understand it is impossible to feel happy all the time and to identify the different reasons that can lead them to feel a variety of emotions. When we understand why we’re feeling a certain way, we can then be more in control of difficult situations. As the emotion Happy explained to Marcy, “The truth is, you won’t feel happy all the time. You are going to feel many things each day, and that’s okay.” “The good news is your feelings don’t have to control you. And they don’t last forever.”
In addition to helping children identify different emotions and understand why they may be feeling a certain way, it is also as important to not label feelings as “good” or “bad.” As was explained in the book, “Frustrated could help her work hard, Jealous could teach her patience, Embarrassed could help her be sure of herself, and Sad could help her feel empathy for others.”
We - children and adults alike - are all entitled to feel all types of emotions. It is our responsibility as adults to teach children how to express their feelings safely and appropriately. The book Marcy’s Having All the Feels can be used by parents, teachers, counselors, administrators and more to help children have a deeper understanding of the complexities of emotions, in an age-appropriate and engaging way!
It is always my pleasure to share resources and help you Learn, Grow & Inspire.
Vanessa De Jesus Guzman is a former teacher, school counselor and licensed associate counselor serving children and families in the northern New Jersey area.
To learn more visit www.freetobemindful.com.