top of page
  • Writer's pictureTina Derusha

What is "emotional literacy" and why is it a superpower?

Emotional Literacy is about: Awareness and Expression - finding healthy, safe ways to communicate your thoughts, feelings, behaviors - in both verbal and non-verbal ways.


It starts with Awareness - noticing and understanding, being in tune with yourself and leads to Empathy - having an intuitive, caring understanding of others.


The term emotional literacy was coined by Claude Steiner in 1997, who believed it was key in helping humans, especially children, handle their own emotions in an empowering way that would also improve their quality of life.



As well as a vocabulary that's built around connecting emotions with those felt senses in the body, it's also the ability to recognize body language and verbal cues in others that foster empathy.


WHY IS IT CRUCIAL?

Learning to self-resource and self-regulate. Also, knowing/understanding cues (verbal and non-verbal) as a means to let the emotion move through the body in a healthy and supported way.


HOW CAN WE NURTURE THIS SKILL?

Essentially we need to find ways to help ourselves, and our little ones, develop the ability to RECOGNIZE - then NAME - then EXPRESS our feelings in a safe, meaningful way.


Mindfulness practices that help you to connect your mind and body to raise your awareness help you be more in tune - so you can respond instead of react.

Examples of practices that have helped Tina and Neha: - Breathwork - Yoga Nidra - EFT - Affirmations - Mind-mapping - Journaling - Emotional-sensation wheel


Here's what Neha practices with her kids: - Affirmations - Reading books and talking about the emotions of the characters -expanding vocabulary of feelings - Flip & Flow at bedtime to help connect the mind, body and feelings and focussing on one at a time - Yoga / mindful movement - drawing your mood (colour/mood monsters) - Playing "rose rose thorn bud" at bedtime to help reflect and give a safe, calm outlet for any pent up feelings


When a child has a melt-down/tantrum/fit, it's typically because they don't have the language to express what they're experiencing, the validation from an adult in the form of listening and creating a safe environment to talk about it and/or the ability to release the physical build-up of negative emotions. Teaching mindfulness and breathing techniques helps them learn to self-regulate. These are tools that sustain them throughout their life.


Tina on developing emotional literacy as an adult and how it has impacted her:


"By learning how to make connections between what I'm feeling in my body and the emotion moving through me, I'm able to pause, assess and take care of my present-moment needs. I'm better able to articulate how I'm feeling and set boundaries when I need time to process."


"I see mindful techniques and breathing exercises as the keys that unlock the door to my subconscious conditioning. They help me rewire my emotional response system to include habits that support grounding, safety, and releasing unhealthy patterns of thoughts and behavior."


More insights on understanding your emotional landscape:




bottom of page