Friday, December 11, 2020

Counseling to help children with poor emotional literacy and awareness

In counseling, I often observe kids with the following patterns that present to me with mood issues or behavioral concerns.

1 Some kids are great at being aware of other people’s feelings but not their own.

2 Some are very good at knowing how they feel, but not great with the feelings of others.

3 Some are great with both, but I don’t often see this group to be honest.

4 Those who have great difficulties with both sensing and processing their own feelings, and the feelings of others.

Those in number 4 are at risk of running into trouble at schools, especially in the social sense.

If we represent feelings like colors, then these kids are a bit “color blind” to feelings, including theirs and others.

They need support in emotional literacy to accept them for who they are, embrace their strengths, and manage their weaknesses including scaffolding.

Interestingly, when they are “color blind” to feelings, it presents strengths in other areas like photographic memories for example. It’s like when someone is blind, the other senses heighten to compensate. Daredevil came to mind for Marvel fans.

Having awareness of the above may guide us on HOW to help our patients better. 

Folks who can sense and process the feelings in the external world, and act on those,  may tend to “over please” people at the cost of their own inner feelings. ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy) may help to focus more on their inner world, and values to create more inner harmony. 

Those who are super focused on their inner feelings and principles, may fully understand who they are and living like true to who they are, but sometimes at the cost of breaking social norms.  They may need some psychoeducation around “social skills” perhaps. 

Some will need both approaches, especially if the “feeling space” is not their thing. 

Having said that, the key emphasis is still on self understanding and self acceptance. By all means, work on our weaknesses, but don’t judge ourselves based on those weaknesses.

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