When a child asks: “When are you going to hug me?”

“When are you going to hug me?” is the question that Mark Kermode, film critic, pulls out the Elton John film ‘Rocketman’.
He then goes on to describe the film as “a story about a little boy who became a big star while plaintively pleading ’I want love, but it’s impossible’, a shy kid who must learn to play-act after enduring a childhood that would have struck a chord with Philip Larkin”.

Did you see the film? 

We may not have the likes of Elton John in our classroom (or maybe not to our knowledge) but we do have children who are asking the same question ’when are you going to love me?’with childhoods that make us weep.  

It seems to me that the film showed how self-awareness made all the difference to surviving these early experiences. Can we increase self-awareness for our pupils who want a hug?

Schools seem very good at teaching the words around feelings – the names – although I think we sometimes underestimate the breadth and depth of feelings the youngest learners have.  I do recall sitting in a classroom of SEND pupils in a Special Education setting where the teacher was focussing on the basics of ’ I feel happy and I feel sad’ and when left to create their own lists the class went on to create a list of 32 alternatives! Who would have anticipated ‘disappointed, thrilled and ecstatic’!

What we are less good at it is explaining the management of these feelings- what to remember when you are in a situation that prompts confused or mixed feelings.

Here is a handout of 10 indicators of understanding that we can teach to progress our current offer of feeling literacy to emotional mastery.