Masks, Children and the Real Question.

Let’s just get right to the point.

Masks and Kids. Specifically other people wearing masks and kids.

It’s weird.

However, the social-emotional consequences are more intertwined in the available buffers. Buffers are very close family caregivers and teachers. These are the people who directly influence resilience. So the question really is, how can we use masks to deepen social-emotional intelligence?

One of the answers is in the eyes. The other answer is in our body. In the past we have focused vigorously on the face for studying emotion, particularly in early childhood.

The first time I realized how much the body could teach was actually before covid, with a student working through understanding their own interpretations of emotion while being diagnosed on the spectrum. While we had a booklet of different facial cues for emotions, some of it was successful in that the student memorized the persons face, and what the expression meant.. but it wasn’t easily applied to other people- at all. I started wondering how other parts of the body might be a better place to explore emotion. I took pictures of “body emotions” and this took us somewhere. Particularly the language of the hands. Hands have a language of their own in expressing emotion and for some reason, for this student, this language was far more clear than the facial expressions. This was a very beautiful experiment to me. It helped me realize that it wasn’t actually the absence of social emotional intelligence, it was the language. Often we teach and parent in one language.

Masks are an opportunity to explore other languages. Particularly the eyes, hands, and body.

When you have a strong feeling, sit down with a child, even with a mask and ask them to study a certain part of the body to figure out what it is. Maybe it’s the eyes, hands, arms, feet…

Get creative. Look for situations where you can look into different social-emotional languages. Ask how your own hands are when your feel something strongly, how are your feet? Your eyes?

Empathy, understanding, feeling, emotion- it has many languages.

This is an opportunity that can change the world.

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