Young ones learn from watching. You can tell your kids anything you want, but if you don’t do whatever it is…guess what?
When kids do not know how or do not feel comfortable enough to talk about what is going on internally, it is a recipe for disaster. That is the mainstay of men in prison, unable to express their true emotions or feelings. When they do it is transformed into anger. 

Knowing how to say, “I’m sad” and then expressing it properly is a big deal. I would challenge you to spend time with your kids, or the kids in your life, doing simple things like identifying emotions and feelings within. 

It may seem ridiculous to do this at first, but it will not when they actually use them. It definitely will not when they do not know how and hurt someone, or themselves, because they did not know how to express real emotion. 

Get their attention and go through each emotion. Then have them identify things in each emotion within their lives. As a figure in their lives, you will need to show them how to express each one. How to cope. What the stages are, when will it end, will it end? What to do next etc. Let them know how normal it is to feel hurt, anxiety, shame, guilt, happiness, joy, anger, jealousy, sadness, grief, lust, love etc. 

Most people in prison are here because they reacted improperly to some emotion or string of emotions. They get stressed out and did not know how to handle it. Suppression of feelings is dangerous because they WILL surface, one way or another. Sometimes they surface in ways that are horrific or immoral. Don’t believe me? Come talk to any ten random inmates…promise you’ll change your mind.

Mismanagement of feelings and emotions is avoidable because it is never too late to learn them. I did, in my 30’s. I wish I would have had them in my earlier years. 

Be the one person that your child expresses themselves too because if they don’t feel comfortable talking to you, they will find somebody else. Or worse, nobody at all. 

End victimization, do your part and teach your community how to cope with emotions. 

With Love
Jeff Utnage