For some people, social situations and verbal navigation are simple and enjoyable. Others with different personalities find those treacherous. I want to think a little bit about how a mom can work on helping a child who finds words difficult navigate the verbal world a little easier. We’ll talk about several things in the next few posts.
Today, I want to talk about the importance in giving words to emotions.
Am I afraid? Angry? Have a stomach ache? Some people can understand and separate the fine minutiae even when all three are present at the same time. Others simply guess. All young children seem to benefit when we mothers help give them words to what they cannot express, but I am considering my role in giving words to older children as well.
Today I was trying to have a discussion about poetry with one of my children. I asked about favorite poetry. “I don’t like poetry, mom.” You can see how the conversation was going to end up. Although we later found examples of poetry that we all agreed were enjoyable, part of the initial reaction was rooted in a discomfort with using words to communicate.
I brought up poetry in the Bible, and here is where my epiphany began. I told my children that one reason people write poems is that they like giving words to what others perceive but don’t know how to express. If you’ve ever read something and felt a leap in your heart as you say, “YES. This is what I think, too!” then you can understand what I was trying to communicate. That’s when I began to see one reason we love to read Psalms when deep emotions swell inside us. King David puts our emotions into words that we cannot express as well on our own. Good Christian music follows this same pattern, saying something true in a beautiful way, improving our own ability to express what is going on inside and around us.
If these thoughts are true, then wouldn’t it be appropriate to use the Psalms as an emotional textbook– not only teaching my children about how to respond to emotions inside them, but also helping them understand the emotions themselves and giving them ways to express them? I’m thinking about deliberately teaching through Psalms in this way. Maybe we can categorize Psalms based on the emotions in them, similarly to the way we once categorized the Proverbs by types of people they described.
I’ll keep you posted.