How do I help young people to understand and identify the emotions they feel?
This year, we’ve been investing in a series on mental health to support our students, staff and young people. As part of this, in Bicester and Witney we’ve put some time into understanding Emotional Intelligence.
The GreenHouse Gap Year students have been very fortunate to have had different mental health practitioners come in and run workshops with us. We learned a lot and we grew a lot.
We’d love to share some of their insights with you – in the hope that they can be useful for yourself and be resources for other young people you might be journeying with.
Perceiving emotions is a crucial step in handling emotions with maturity. We are used to just feeling what we feel without reflecting on the why’s behind our emotions. To overcome that lack of awareness, we set out to track out our emotions.
For a week, all of the GreenHouse Gap Year students and leaders documented our emotions with the help of ‘Mood Trackers’. By tracking our moods daily we began to see the patterns, scope, and range of emotions which we have throughout the week.
Both Gap Year students and staff have begun to share their new insights and revelations found in tracking their moods. Ready to embark on their next step in Understanding emotions.
We found many downloadable mood trackers online like this one. You can use this with young people to help them perceive their emotions.
How do we help young people to learn to perceive their emotions? And, at the same time, how do we learn emotions do not have to drive our behaviours? Jon Bloom shares that;
“God designed your emotions to be gauges, not guides. They’re meant to report to you, not dictate you. The pattern of your emotions (not every caffeine-induced or sleep-deprived one!) will give you a reading on where your hope is because they are wired into what you believe and value — and how much.
“That’s why emotions like delight (Psalm 37:4), affection (Romans 12:10), fear (Luke 12:5), anger (Psalm 37:8), joy (Psalm 5:11), etc., are so important in the Bible. They reveal what your heart loves, trusts, and fears.”Jon Bloom – Your Emotions Are a Gauge Not a Guide
You can find Jon Bloom’s article in its entirety here. It is well worth the read!
Tools to Reflect on Emotions
Helping young people reflect on their emotions is so important to guide them into emotional maturity. Here are two resources you can use with your young people. These help us to see we have a choice in how we respond to our emotions. And, how we choose to not be ruled by emotions.
Reflection tool 1
You are driving by and notice an emotion. you slow down and let it hop inside.
- can you identify the emotion?
- What are you going to do now you have let it come inside the car?
- Are you going to move over and put it in the driver’s seat?
- Is it going in the Passenger seat? Back Seat?
You have the choice of whether you let the emotion drive you. Or be next to you, giving you directions. Or, be a back seat passenger, not in control but still present. Even thrown in the boot and not given a chance to affect the journey!
Reflection Tool 2
A train (emotion) goes by every minute. Am I going to get on it or do I just let the train pass me by? Where is the train going to take me? Do I want to go there? Does it match with the destination I am trying to get to?
Like the list of stations telling us the drop off points on a train line, our emotions can do similar things. If you can be aware of what track a certain emotion will take you on, you can begin to manage your emotions. Manage your emotions in a more healthy way by choosing whether to ‘board that train’ or board another that leads to the place of your choosing.
This has been a very quick snapshot of some of the things we have been discussing around emotional maturity. We hope you can glean some useful pieces to take away and use these to support others in their journeys.
If you’d like any more information on any subjects mentioned in this article or source materials, then please do get in touch. We’ve found these examples and talking points extremely useful and we hope you do too.
featured image – https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/emoji-faced-young-friends_4246727.htm