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It starts at home - Doctor calls on parents to be aware of children's emotions

Published:Thursday | September 28, 2017 | 12:00 AMTamara Bailey

MANDEVILLE, Manchester:

Have you ever seen children with great potential suddenly become rowdy and rebellious? Have you ever seen children who were admired by all, suddenly behave as though they have no moral compass and wondered, where is the disconnect?

Paediatrician Dr Carolyn Pinnock-Jackson said that parents and adults alike must learn to embrace their feelings and help children to deal with theirs.

"Self-awareness, feelings, behaviour are not things that we like to talk about, but emotions are things we must understand to understand ourselves and understand others," she said.

She informed that there are eight basic emotions, five of which are negative and three positive. Hence, the importance of understanding that a negative emotion is not something to be rejected.

"We must teach children to be able to identify basic emotions: anger, fear, interest, shame, surprise, disgust, fear. Children need to be able to give their feelings a name. They need to recognise the physical reaction they are having to the emotion they are experiencing," she revealed as she spoke to a gathering of parents and others at the Cecil Charlton Park recently.

"We need to teach children what the triggers are so they can know for themselves when they need to walk away; when they need to go call an adult for help; when they need to recognise that what they are feeling is more than they can manage."

Pinnock-Jackson added that parents must know that driving fear into children will not help them to cope better with emotions. It will worsen it.

"Most importantly, we need to teach our children how to cope with feelings. We cannot shame or bully a child out of feeling angry. If a child is angry and they are bullied because of expressing it, the next time they feel angry it will come with anxiety. It will not get rid of the anger, it will complicate it."

She continued: "We tell ... our boys to 'man up' and when they do things a certain way we ask, 'you ah girl?' We have to teach children to channel the energies of their emotions into productive activities."

Adults often project their own shortcomings on a child, expecting that the child will follow suit; however, this is not advised.

"We have to be self-aware, but we have to teach children self-awareness. Do not fear your own emotions, but embrace them and understand them, and then teach the children. Let no child that comes into your presence leave without being infected with the power of their own self-awareness," she said.