Let the Clouds of Emotions Roll By: Teaching That Feelings Come and Go
As we’ve said repeatedly in our journey through this book, it’s very important that kids learn about and understand their feelings. But it’s also true that feelings need to be recognized for what they are: temporary, changing conditions. They are states, not traits. They’re like the weather. Rain is real, and we’d be foolish to stand in a downpour and act as if it weren’t actually raining. But we’d be just as foolish to expect that the sun will never reappear.
We need to help children understand that the clouds of their emotions can (and will) roll on by. They won’t feel sad or angry or hurt or lonely forever. This is a difficult concept for kids to understand at first. When they hurt or when they’re scared, it’s sometimes hard for them to imagine that they won’t always suffer. Taking the long view isn’t usually that easy even for an adult, much less a young child.
So we have to help them understand that feelings are temporary—on average, an emotion comes and goes in ninety seconds. If we can communicate to our children how fleeting most feelings are, then we can help them develop the mindsight on display in the boy we mentioned earlier who corrected himself and said, “I’m not dumb; I just feel dumb right now.”
Younger kids will obviously need your help, but they can certainly grasp the idea that feelings come and go. The more kids understand that feelings come and go, the less they’ll get stuck on the rim of their wheel, and the more they’ll be able to live life and make decisions from their hub.