i-am-heart helps boys develop emotional support
Thursday, Mar 08, 2018 06:00 am
Feelings aren’t gender-specific – that’s the message from Airdrie organization i-am-heart, which aims to build confidence, self-esteem and acceptance through emotional development programs for boys. Founder Lance Drozda will be spreading this message at a public session March 22 at the Airdrie Public Library.
“Kids, especially at the elementary and middle school age, start to develop their own identities and understand their place in the world,” Drozda said.
“One of the things we feel is really important is that they have a proper understanding that our emotions are one of the things that make us unique – that make us human.”
According to Drozda, emotions are a necessary way for humans to interact with and learn about the world – providing us with important information that allows us to determine what we like and dislike. While he said some might feel pleasant and others less so, there are no “good” or “bad” emotions.
“All emotions are acceptable – but not all behaviour is,” Drozda said.
“It’s really important to draw the distinction between the two, because when kids – or even adults – get the perspective that they are the same, they’ll try to suppress their emotions, and the expression of those emotions, in an effort to manage that behaviour.”
This is especially important for boys to learn, he added, since pervasive social stigmas can sometimes disturb the “alignment” of how boys interpret and express their feelings – particularly those of sadness or empathy.
“That idea that any kind of vulnerable or sensitive feeling shouldn’t be expressed, or should only be expressed in certain ways or in certain circumstances, is really confusing for boys,” he said.
“There’s an understanding that being empathetic and kind is good, but it’s hard to figure out when it’s ‘permissible.’”
As a result, these internalized emotions can negatively impact many aspects of a boy’s life. According to Drozda, this can affect social relationships and mental health, contributing to depression, anxiety or even suicidal thoughts.
“A lot of chronic issues can be traced back to emotional resiliency and awareness,” he said.
“That’s why we really try to instill this message early on.”
Still, Drozda said often, parents get just as much out of the presentations as kids do. Through discussion, slides, animation and videos, i-am-heart aims to engage participants in the conversation and guide them through what it means to really feel their own feelings.
“The more we come to a place of internal self-acceptance, the easier it is for us to understand that other people are unique, too, and to accept them,” Drozda said.
“We all become healthier for it, and it allows both kids and adults to be more empowered in their own lives.”
Visit iamheart.ca for more information.