You can probably tell by now that I hear a lot of interesting conversations take place in this little office that I’m interning at this summer. One of which took place just last week that struck me as kind of odd; and I don’t know how I feel about it.
One of the teachers from the school came into the office and was discussing with the director about how some children are showing some signs of regression. It’s totally normal for early learners to be feeling nervous or stressed this time of year, especially if they are transitioning into kindergarten soon. Anyway, I tuned in on this conversation when a comment made by the teacher caught my attention. She was explaining how she was dealing with a student who was showing regressive behavior. She said that she was trying to show him that what he is feeling and going through is ok (which I agree with), but then said that his feelings are just that. Just feelings. That his feelings have no power. Essentially that he should try to ignore the feelings he is having and not let them control him.
Maybe you can see why this struck me as somewhat odd.
I sat and thought about what this teacher had said for a few minutes and went over both sides that could be taken from this argument.
I can see where the teacher is coming from. Feelings are just emotions built up by ourselves that are easily able to be changed just by our attitude. Any feeling that we have – may that be sadness, nervousness, happiness, excitement – are choices made by us that we have the power to control. So if a student is feeling nervous or scared about a change in their life such as transitioning into kindergarten, it is possible and up to them to change those said feelings. No one else has the power to do that but themselves. Feelings are not a tangible thing that one can physically touch, so these emotions are things that are easily changeable if we have the will to do so. This teacher was obviously trying to make her student feel better about what he or she was feeling, I get that. But was this message appropriate? Trying to instill the thoughts that our feelings are pointless and should be ignored?
Here’s where my other argument took over.
As an emotional young woman, I have a lot of feelings. Everyday I experience every kind of feeling in the book. I may wake up happy and eager and within 5 minutes of my hair not looking right I get grumpy. Then I may forget all about that and feel tired as I’m at work typing my little fingers away. I may feel nervous when I get emails from my University or my landlord that mention things like rent and tuition. I may feel excited when I talk to my roommate about moving into our new apartment together. All of these feelings happen in just a matter of a few hours. And these feelings are what shape my mood and view of my day.
Feelings are also what define us. How our mood is like is how people gauge us as individuals and tell them how to act around us. If we seem like we are eager and outgoing, others may feel more inclined to talk with us. If we seem shy and upset, others may leave us alone.
There are so many different reasons why our feelings shape and affect our everyday lives. So to just “ignore” them is essentially saying that we should ignore how we choose to live everyday.
There’s that word again. Choose.
Yes, we choose our feelings. We are the one who is solely in charge of how we feel and act on those feelings everyday. We may choose to feel happy even when we are actually sad. We may choose to feel adventurous and do something crazy even when every bone in our body is yelling at us not to. We choose how we feel, we choose how we act, we choose how to live our lives. We don’t just ignore the feeling of being hungry or thirsty just because they are an inconvenience to our lives, do we? No. So why ignore our feelings that are there to protect us in our emotional lives. We should embrace them just as we embrace the food that’s been put in front of us when we are feeling hungry.
I believe in the importance of our feelings, and not just because I am a young woman with a lot of them. I think it is important to teach our children that feelings are a natural part of our lives and that we shouldn’t ignore them. We have feelings for a reason. They are there to protect us. And to ignore them is to ignore the most personal and important part of ourselves.
I understand where this teacher is coming from, I’m just not sure if she took it with the right approach when talking to a young child who is still trying to figure out who they are. Am I wrong? I want to hear what you think!