I am teaching our two-year-old about emotions.
I am teaching him that all emotions have value and that it's important you feel them, recognise what they are and then when you can to let them go. I teaching him it is OK to express yourself exactly as you feel and to do so without fear. This is a work in progress and will continue throughout his life I hope. He will obviously have to learn about being aware of others but given that his little brain is still so early in its development that can wait.
Recently, I have come to realise how hard this approach is to manage out in the world. People seem to expect a certain type of behaviour from a boy. They expect him to be accepting of any situation...new...scary...boring and everything in between. They expect him to be calm and just get on with anything or anywhere his parents take him. And if he isn't? Then comes the ultimate infuriating sentence.
"Oh your son is rather sensitive isn't he...has he always been like that?"
Yes, he has - if you mean he has feelings and emotions that differ to his parents and other adults needs.
Yes, if you mean he has every right not to want to be somewhere new when it's scary for him.
Yes, if you mean he is aware of himself and others feelings and shares them openly.
Yes, if you mean he is encouraged to learn and identify how he feels so he can decide what he loves and what he doesn't by himself.
Yes, if you mean he is TWO and has very little control over himself because HE HASN'T DEVELOPED THE BRAIN FUNCTION YET.
The next thing that happens is they have a conversation quietly with either themselves or a friend about these modern mothers who let the child control their lives and not the other way around as it apparently should be.
Well, here is a news flash for all of the people who think like that. I did not have a child so I could control it...so I could bend and break it's will to fit MY needs or so I could continue to live the life I had before him. I had a child to give him the chance to be who he is. To learn to love without fear and in the knowledge that his parents love all of him as we do each other. The good the bad and the ugly.
I appreciate this may be infuriating, it may mean I can do less of the things I love and it may annoy you so much you feel the need to judge us both and comment. It is certainly not good enough to say "it never did me any harm" and therefore that equals that every child should be subject to the same style of parenting that you received. How you even know? How do you know you wouldn't be different to who you are now if you had been parented differently? No one does.
We are doing our best to give our son the best chance we can at being happy. At finding out who he is with the support of parents who provide love, understanding and of course boundaries. Who knows if we are doing this right but if our son grows up aware of his feelings and of others around him then that part will certainly be a job well done.