When I asked Miss 5 what I should call this story she declared a title should tell us what the story is about, so she chose this title, and yep that’s what this story is about, those pesky Secondary emotions, and the biggest pest of them all Anger.
Now I’m no psychologist, but I don’t think we need to be in order to understand how our emotions work and how they effect us. When we understand our emotions we are able to help change the way we respond to them, it has been a huge lesson for me and is something that has helped me become a much calmer parent. The other morning when Miss 5 and Master 4 were struggling to be safe with each other I decided it was time for some cuddles and a refresher on anger.
Here is a snap shot of our conversation.
Me: “Did you know that anger is a secondary emotion?”
*children looking at me like I’m speaking a different language*
Did you know that when we get angry, there is usually another emotion behind it? Our brain is trying to protect us from a different emotion that could make us feel worse? Can you think of some emotions that might cause us to be angry?”
Miss 5 “when I worry about things it can make me angry.”
M: “yep sometimes fears and worry can make us feel angry, sometimes we feel angry because we’re embarrassed, or we feel ashamed. Sometimes it’s because we are tired and sometimes it’s because we’re hungry. Some people call this Hangry. It’s ok to be angry and it’s also good to have a think about WHY we might be angry. Do you know why you’re both feeling angry this morning?”
Master 4: “I think I’m actually hangry. I didn’t have much breaky”
M: “I thought you might be. What about you ?”
Miss 5: “I’m worried about going to Jman’s playball class”
Master 4 wandered off to get a snack and Miss 5 and I came up with a strategy to help her with the change in routine and having to come along to her brothers class.
Since this little discussion both kids have been more conscious of their own emotions and each others. Miss 5 asking Master 4 yesterday “you seem angry? remember anger is a secondary emotion, have you had a thought about what is behind it?”
Or todays little conversation between master 4 and myself.
M “you seemed a bit upset at grans house? are you ok?”
Master 4 “yeh. I was angry, I don’t know why. My brain just told my hands to pinch and it told my mouth to say nah nah nah nah. I think anger was behind my anger today mum.”
M “yep sometimes its hard to figure it out, that’s why I’m here to help you”
We talk about feelings a lot, I try to touch base with each of the kids at least once a day. Sometimes we talk about how they’re feeling, sometimes it’s about how I am feeling, and some days they ask about someone they saw that was upset of angry. I perhaps haven’t been paying that big old emotion of anger enough attention of late and it seems that naming it to tame it really does work (Thanks Dan Siegel!).
Do you talk about emotions with your kids?