Emotional literacy

Emotional literacy enables us to communicate and understand our emotions appropriately and effectively with others. When we communicate, we are not just talking and listening and responding to our emotional inner-world; communication is more complex and underpinned by sensory-awareness.

Most parents know when they are happy their children are happy but what very few know is that their children, being more sensitive, absorb a parents emotional state, they also take responsibility for that emotional state. Children don’t have the confidence or the communication and emotional abilities to express their concern, so they kick off in the only way they know how to get attention. That might be screaming, hitting out or storming out of the room shouting “you don’t understand me” as they slam the door.

Sensory awareness comprises the five senses identified by Aristotle. These are:

  1. Visual
  2. Auditory (heard)
  3. Physical (touch)
  4. Taste
  5. Odour

Aristotle could have included ‘balance’ which is complex and involves neurological, physical and visual components. Our ability to ‘sense’ meaning in communication beyond just words, means that communication between people may vary from primitive to rich. Children before the age of six are particularly sensory-aware and will interpret meaning even before they understand words and sentences.

By bringing new awareness to the richness of communication in parents by re-awakening their sensory-awareness, they focus less on ‘agreement v. conflict’ (and the emotional-overlay of those two positions) and instead focus more on the depth of meaning. This more developed way of experiencing other humans and brings greater understanding to the relationship in practical ways that are often transformative.

However, we believe that there is another level of communication beyond what is conventionally described by sensory-awareness. We’ve used the phrase ‘energetic connection’, which could explain some of the fantastic experiences parents have enjoyed when being open to possibilities. This is fundamental in our work in parent/child relationships. See our latest article in one of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy magazines ‘Thresholds’ here.

Our unique approach to support parents has evolved over 10 years and been co-created with 1,000’s of children, young people, parents and professionals working in homes, schools and Children’s Centres. The theoretical approach is a rich mixture of coaching, emotional literacy, Neuroscience, experiential learning and the work of Perls, Kolb, Jung and Rogers.

What does that mean? It means although our approach to parent support is innovative, it is soundly based on proven theories and when it comes to your precious relationships, that is important.

Our approach has found that the type of connection between people is fundamental to successful and happy relationships.

You might have noticed your children can sense the mood you’re in before you enter a room? I wanted a generic term for this type of ‘connection’, so I’ve been using the phrase ‘energetic connection’.  It can also be described as sensory awareness, intuition, instincts, gut feeling, knowing, love and what Neuroscience is explaining as our interconnectedness with everyone.  Positive connections with others, causes release of oxytocin. Oxytocin stimulates serotonin and dopamine production creating experiences of contentment and ideal states for learning and neuroplastic change, where facilitative coaching is the mode of change.

This energetic connection can have profound implications for our personal relationships. Have you noticed :

  • When you enter a room full of strangers you can feel comfortable or uncomfortable?
  • Someone saying, “I was just thinking of that” or you have said it yourself?
  • If the phone rings and it’s someone you haven’t seen or heard of for sometime, but you’ve been thinking about them?
  • You can sense someone behind you without hearing them?

Then you have experienced that ‘energy’ and it’s always there for you to access. This energy has a huge impact on the quality of a connection between two people and the parents we have worked with have noticed that children are infinitely more sensitive.

You know how when you’re feeling relaxed, it can feel like you’re more able to instinctively know what it is your baby wants? I believe this is because when we are relaxed we can more easily pick up on the energy that flows between us and others.

Our use of the term energetic connection is a simplification of the connection between science and spirituality. The work of Dr Claude Swanson is the most comprehensive and easy to understand reference I’ve found on the subject, the more open minded you are, the more you will take from his work.

The biggest influence on your potential to connect energetically is how good you feel about yourself.

When you feel good about yourself everything feels easier – the children are happier and more content, but when you’re angry or stressed the opposite is true. When your emotions are up in the air or you’re focussing on your problems, you’re very unlikely to have a positive connection.

I believe there is huge potential in this positive energetic connection and it’s available to you all the time.

Developing awareness of these experiences opens up the possibilities of the positive energetic connection in your relationships.

Why is this important in our parent support?

These are the more obvious reasons:

  • It helps you realise you can trust your instincts/intuition/sensing/knowing more.
  • It helps you realise how sensitive your children are, how innately connected they are and how even thoughts are transmitted.
  • Children with labels – ‘learning difficulties’, ‘dyslexia’, ‘A.S.D’ are likely to be even more sensitive to others energy.
  • There’s a growing body of evidence showing how children take responsibility for their parents’ emotional state.
  • By making children aware of this energetic connection, they can trust their innate abilities and have confidence in themselves.
  • By encouraging children to explore their energetic connection with others, they are opening up a whole world of possibilities and opportunities.
  1. Click for some examples from parents
    • Ms S single Mum, with a 7-year-old son diagnosed with ADHD has been sending loving energy to her son whilst he is at school. Her sons teacher pulled her to one side when she went to collect him and said how much of a fantastic day he had, and that at one point when his usual group of friends became disruptive, he took himself away from them and played with another group of children. Mum proudly explained that he now even makes eye contact with people.
    • Ms K a single Mum, with a son of 4 years old has global development delay, and she can now communicate non-verbally which has transformed communication within the family unit.
    • Mrs AM said that she had been thinking about her deceased mother. She said that she had a sensation on the back of her neck and when speaking to her daughter later in the day it transpired that she too had also had the same thoughts and feelings at the same time.
    • Mrs A was explaining that she had a horrible dream in the week and it upset her which, she knows is silly; however she was ironing one morning and for some reason she thought about the dream again and felt emotional. Her son (aged 4) looked up at her from playing and said, “mummy are you ok” Mum asked “What made you ask me that” and he replied “I thought you felt sad” he then asked “are you feeling ok now mummy”.
    • Miss GW I had a dream of my Nan chatting to me but only remembered the last bit she told me. ‘Was to get out of bed and close the balcony door. I woke up a bit confused as I don’t normally remember my dreams’, went to check on the door and it was open a couple of inches.
    • Mrs SS looks in on her children at night and her son was fast asleep snoring and she sent a message energetically to say that she loved him and he sat up without waking and said “I love you mummy” and laid down again, she was so surprised that she had trouble sleeping.
    • Miss LH said that when she went to look at the venue of a place where she is getting married, there was a skate park behind it and sensed that her young son would want to go afterwards. Normally she wouldn’t of let him go as he is small. She asked him if he wanted to go in there, which he did. While he was in there she turned to talk to her partner, she sensed that she had to turn round. At that point her son was in another skater’s path so she shouted to warn him of the danger.
    • Miss PJ said I had a thought – I need to pick her blanket up. Without asking she did it and gave it to me.
    • Miss JM said that on the day she went to the beach that she had to meet up with her brother before hand. She sensed that something was wrong and that her brother was late. She heard a screech of a car and ran out to see what had happened. A man had collapsed in front of her brother’s car and he had to swerve round him. She just knew that something was going to happen.
    • Mrs VC said by intentionally connecting with my 2nd child (who has a speech and hearing problem) her speech has become much better, I understand her more and there are less tantrums.
    • Mrs KC said she was going out and her son insisted on wearing a sun hat that totally clashed with what he was wearing (plus it wasn’t sunny!). I was sitting next to him in the back of the car thinking ‘how can I get that off him before we get there’. He turned to me and said ‘I like my hat Mummy, I not taking it off’!
    • Mrs KF said that she had a connection while at the hospital when she saw the look in her daughter’s eyes, she looked scared. She said that she gave a look back to say you’re safe and ok and her daughter started to look more relaxed and had a glint in her eyes.
    • Mrs AR said that she had bought her daughter a guinea pig as a pet and when she met her daughter from school she seemed happier than usual and said ‘mummy have you bought me a bunny?’ She said it was as if she was reading my thoughts, not a bunny but yes a pet.
    • Mrs KC said her son connected with Nan and said ‘Nannie garden’. Later she phoned her Mum and it transpired that his Nan was thinking of going out into the garden at that time – it spooked her and her Nan!
    • Miss SK got up made the breakfast, getting ready and thinking that her son’s room needed cleaning, a few minutes later he came out of the room having cleaned it!

Canterbury Christ Church University has recently produced an independent evaluation here of our programme.