Feeling understood = feeling seen
THE IMPORTANCE OF FEELING UNDERSTOOD
Feeling understood is directly connected to self-efficacy, self-reliance and ultimately happiness. Children are in the process of trying to make sense of the world surrounding them every day. They deal with numerous new and unknown impressions and constant change within their environments that require a level of prosilience and the ability to adapt. Ensuring that they feel understood provides them with a tool to make sense of the world and empowers them to explore and investigate it. In Rita’s case, it is essential that the parents make time to spend with him both together and apart, despite their current separation. This time should consist of quality allowing him to make decisions about his activities, clothing, friendships and more. At Rita’s age, it is essential that he doesn’t feel discouraged, yet rather loved and accepted – the foundation of beginning to feel understood. Educators should focus on their relationship with the parents and find a way to inform them of the critical importance of understanding and accepting Rita for who he is.
Not feeling understood is a discouraging feeling. It can make one feel left alone with one's thoughts, opinions and feelings. Children might feel left out or abandoned and in turn, doubt their own opinion and furthermore, themselves. This is counterproductive in terms of laying a foundation for self-efficacy and self-esteem in children. Should Rita not be allowed to make his own decisions in regard to his gender identity, this could cause frustration and ultimately lead to a form of childhood and long-term depression with his overall wellbeing at stake.
Not feeling understood can fuel frustration in children and this frustration may grow to an extent to which children are then prone to feel anxious, nervous or aggressive (Bandura, 1997) (Blakemore, 2005).