I was just reading Dr. Dan Kindlon and Dr. Michael Thompson's excellent book "Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys". When they talk about emotional literacy, they say that "learning involves recognizing the look and feeling of our emotions, then using this skill to better understand ourselves and others. We learn to appreciate life's emotional complexity and this enhances all our professional and personal relationships, helping us to strengthen the connections that enriches our lives."
Usually moms worry about cliques and social competition among their girls and are more relaxed about young boys that seem to be alright, but the truth is that boys also do struggle with the same painful feelings of failure, rejection and not belonging. When they can't hold the pain any longer, they act on it. Their inner turmoil is expressed in academic failure, depression, drug addiction, alcoholism, troubled relationships and worse.
It is usually very hard, even for most adults, to understand, for example, the difference between frustration and anger, deception and hate. We have to help our children, specially our boys, to be reflective: stop, think, understand, measure the different alternatives and their consequence and then act.
We also have to teach our children to: "first, identify and name our emotions; second, recognize the emotional content of voice and facial expression or body language and third understand the situation or reactions that produce emotional states".
Just imagine how many hours of painful and pointless arguments between future husbands and wives can be avoided if we can help them now - when they are still children - to become emotionally literate and to master their communication skills with their parents, friends and siblings.