Catharsis, contentment, or connection to others? - Mid-Pacific Institute

CE - Abe

Catharsis, contentment, or connection to others?

Playing "Feelings Charades:" This actress is feeling "shy."

Posted on January 20, 2017

by Ms. Abe on January 20, 2017

We share feelings every week during CE. (Of course, children always have the option to pass.) Children will share they are happy that they have Cool Coding class, soccer practice, or piano -- and many other reasons, too. Children will also share they are not happy and wish it would rain really hard so their practice will be cancelled. It is quite common for children to say, "I'm feeling happy because I have nothing after school today!" Recently, one child shared in a frustrated voice, "I have something to do every day, even Saturday and Sunday, and I don't have time for play dates. And my friends have lot of stuff, too, so they're busy and can't have play dates anyway!"

After listening to the children share their feelings, I encourage you to look hard at your child's after school schedule.

We certainly want to encourage skills and activities that our children enjoy. Imagine how you feel driving home after a full day of work, with all of its challenges. Don't you just want to go home and do something you enjoy? Or do you feel like spending another two hours doing an activity that you don't really enjoy and are supposed to listen attentively to more instruction?

As adults, we also need to look at the bigger picture for our children. Is this a particular skill that will help my child as he grows up? Of course, again, if it's an activity your child enjoys, then as an adult she will likely continue to play softball with her company's team or continue to play the violin for his church service. A skill or activity that provides catharsis, contentment, or connection to others over one's lifetime is of great value.

And yes, I know, as the adult, we sometimes need to push our children to do something they don't want to do. Pushing our children to do their chores is something we all need to do. But we must be very careful about choosing which activities that we are pushing our children to do after school.

My friend just shared with me that her children are not the "best" in anything -- not swimming, not tennis, not piano, not cello, not guitar, not karate, not grades. She realized that was something she had been hoping for deep down. She said she had to keep reminding herself that as a parent, her main goal is to raise her children to be respectful, kind, productive adults. Yes, that is what makes people happy -- positive relationships with each other, and being productive/contributing to something bigger than oneself -- and that is what will help our society as well.

My brother-in-law shared this story at dinner the other month: his college-aged son had to write an essay about one of the most memorable nights in his life. He assumed his son would write about the trip to Disneyland or winning the State championship, etc. His son wrote about a night where the electricity went out because of a storm. Because it forced everyone to be home and not at their usual after school activities, the family had a great time with their flashlights and enjoying time together. My brother-in-law, who coaches high school teams who have won State championships, said that he was reminded of the importance of family time together. Just as we schedule our children's games and recitals, perhaps nowadays, with our busy lives, we will need to schedule time as a family too.

Yes, commitment to an activity is important, but it's ok to miss the occasional practice for time together as a family, or to miss the occasional game for a birthday party with friends. Hopefully your children's coaches and instructors are looking at your child as a whole child as well, not just in one dimension. Your child is in elementary school. What is the bigger picture?

P.S. The photos in this blog are from our "Feelings Charades" game that we play in K-2 classes. The children choose a feeling to act out (usually a "heart" feeling, like angry, disappointed, excited vs. a "body" feeling like itchy or tired). After an audience member guesses correctly, we discuss what the actor was doing that helped us figure out what he was feeling: his hands were on his hips, his eyesbrows were slanted down, his mouth was in a line, his feet were apart. He is feeling angry! It helps us in our relationships if we can identify how our friends are feeling. And it helps if we know how to respond kindly after identifying how they're feeling, which we're also starting to practice. This is another blog for another day...

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Acting out the feeling of excitement! (It's blurry because he's jumping up and down!)