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  • It's Okay Not To Be Okay: How To Teach Boys To Be Comfortable With Their Emotions

    Boys also need to learn how to process and express their feelings.
    by Kate Borbon .
It's Okay Not To Be Okay: How To Teach Boys To Be Comfortable With Their Emotions
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  • In a previous SmartParenting.com.ph article, we listed four reasons why boys need to be taught to express their emotions, despite the common belief that it is “not masculine” for them to do so. Both boys or girls need to express their emotions because suppressing them can lead to unhealthy behaviors and adverse effects on their mental health.

    Below, learn about five things you can do to teach your little one to be comfortable with his feelings.

    How to teach your son to embrace his emotions

    Give him an emotional vocabulary

    This simply means teaching him the words he can use to describe how he feels, like “happy,” “sad,” “angry,” and “scared.” Kids aren’t born equipped with the knowledge of ways to talk about their feelings, so parents need to impart these ways to them. You can do this by saying things like, “You look sad” or “You must feel disappointed.” This can also help in normalizing his feelings.

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    Learn to listen

    The Natural Child Project defines listening as “letting yourself feel touched somehow and being aware of the feelings that move through you.” To do this, it’s important to express curiosity in what your son is telling you and refrain from making judgments or offering solutions. Family Education says that this “is the first step to creating connection and solving problems together.”

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    Create a safe emotional environment

    Cara Martinsi, an author and mom of three boys, says in an article for Self Sufficient Kids that “children must know that their home and parents are their safe place.” This can be achieved by providing them with time and space to be honest about their feelings and not telling them that they need to get over things or toughen up.

    A safe emotional environment can also involve setting boundaries. “Children need to know they are allowed to express any and every emotion; however, they are never allowed to hurt anyone with their hands,” Martinsi writes.

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    Show validation

    In an article for The Washington Post, psychotherapist Lena Aburdene Derhally says that validation is all about saying that someone else’s feelings make sense in some way, even if these don’t make sense to you or you can’t relate to it. “Humans are different and react differently so acknowledging their experience and feelings as valid is very healing, and it’s good practice for your child,” Derhally writes.

    Provide tools for processing emotions

    Sometimes, just talking about how he feels may not be enough for your child, so it can be helpful to teach him about tools he can use to process his feelings. Aside from meditation, you can have him take deep breaths or do art activities or simple workouts like jumping jacks.

    Martinsi also recommends a breathing exercise called whole-hand breathing. Hold up your left hand and trace it with your right index finger. Breathe in as you trace up each finger, then breathe out as you trace down. This will lead to five deep breaths that can help your child start feeling better.

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