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Building emotion vocabularies for wellbeing+ #41

+ Upcoming Events

Quote of the Week

“Emotional sickness is avoiding reality at any cost. emotional health is facing reality at any cost.” – M.Scott Peck, American psychiatrist and best-selling author of The Road Less Traveled

Hi, this is the GenWise team– we bring out this newsletter to help parents and educators to complement the work of formal schools and associated systems. We can help our children thrive in these complex times only by exchanging ideas and insights and collaborating on this. We are also a founder-member of the Gifted India Network– if you are interested in issues related to gifted education and talent development, an easy way to keep updated about talks, programs and resources is to join the Gifted India Network telegram channel (

In this week’s main post ‘Building emotion vocabularies for wellbeing’, we share an expanded version of Vishnu Agnihotri’s twitter thread about why emotion vocabularies are important to build. Links to various resources on this topic are included. If you are a parent of a child in grades 5-8, check out the details of the upcoming Ei ASSET Talent Search test in the upcoming events section.

You are invited to be an early member and beta-tester of the GenWise Club (ages 13-90), a community of interested students, parents, and educators. Check out this link for more about the club and how to join it. It is open to all in the current beta phase. 

Join this conversation on learning, by commenting on our posts, or joining our club community for more regular and closer interactions.


Building emotion vocabularies for wellbeing

Upcoming Events

Building emotion vocabularies for wellbeing

This post in an expanded version of this twitter thread.

1/ I have been thinking about this comment of GenWise mentor, Dr. Bhooshan Shukla (@docbhooshan), in a @GenWise_ adda on developing socio-emotional maturity in children. It made sense intuitively but I did not fully understand why not being able to give a specific word for an emotion would ‘freeze’ someone.

Here’s Dr. Bhooshan talking about the importance of recognizing different shades of emotion- 

2/ Some things are becoming clearer as I read about the topic. A child who clubs irritated, frustrated & annoyed- as ‘angry’, can’t acknowledge what they are going through and their emotions may escalate to ‘enraged’ and they may end up beating another child or cry hysterically. 

3/ A granular emotional vocabulary also helps us to perceive others’ emotions more accurately. Looking at this image though I realized how poor my current vocabulary is. In fact I recently confused indigestion (a sensation) for feeling stressed about work.

4/ This reminded me of a condition called alexithymia in which people have difficulty experiencing emotion. They are more likely to experience a stomach ache instead of ‘anger’. All of us do this to some extent… create a reality of our own influenced by our physical state. 

5/ Thus even as we try to help our children to develop a richer vocabulary of emotions, we need to work on developing our own. Learning many new words & inventing your emotion concepts are some suggestions @LFeldmanBarrett shares in this article-

6/ I just installed the mood meter app which looks promising- hoping that it will improve my emotional vocabulary-

7/ I am also reading this book by @BreneBrown Each chapter provides clarity on a group of emotions e.g. Chap #5 looks into ‘Places we go when we’re hurting- Anguish, hopelessness, despair, sadness, grief’

8/ In conclusion, I share an extract from the book ‘Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive’ by @marcbrackett, founder of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

But is there really a connection between what we’re capable of feeling and what we’re able to express? You might think not—even if we never named one of our feelings, we all experience the same set of emotions, don’t we? Can our ability to feel be influenced by our vocabulary? To some degree, it can. If we can acknowledge only the basics that every child knows- I’m mad, I’m happy, I’m scared, I’m sad- we’re missing a lot of information. The number of English words and associations for “shame” is no match when compared with the Chinese. In Mandarin, there were more than one hundred different shame-related terms and phrases found in one research article. In that same spirit, we have to assume that there’s a connection between the size of our emotion vocabulary and the importance of emotions in our lives. The more words we can use to describe what we feel, the better able we’ll be to understand ourselves and to make ourselves understood to others. And if our counterparts, too, have robust emotion vocabularies, it will be much easier for us to understand them-not just to empathize but also to help them, when needed, to regulate and modulate the feelings they experience. Their emotional lives are often a mystery to us precisely because they haven’t yet learned to process and express what they feel. The more words that children can use, the better able we’ll be to support them. When we use a wide variety of terms to describe emotions, our children learn the words, but they also absorb the lesson that describing their feelings is a natural, positive thing to do. Attaching the correct label to the emotion is critical because once we’ve labeled a feeling, we’ve also begun figuring out what to do about it. If we assume incorrectly that our child is feeling anxious, we’ll fail to address the actual emotion—perhaps embarrassment, maybe fear, both of which can look a lot like anxiety from the outside. Imprecise Labeling can lead us astray as we search for ways to resolve negative emotions.And that’s why emotion vocabulary—Labeling—matters so much.

Upcoming Events

Ei ASSET Talent Search (ATS) 2022- This is India’s premier above-level test for identification of gifted students that is recognized by world-class gifted programs of the likes of Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development, Purdue University’s Gifted Education Research and Resource Institute (GER2I), University of California, Berkeley – Academic Talent Development Program (ATDP) and GenWise, who recognize ATS scores in their program application process. This film elaborates on the value of taking ATS.

The test can be taken online from home by children in grades 5-8 who have qualified for this through their performance in the grade- level ASSET test they might have taken earlier. If your child has not taken the ASSET test, they can do so online here. Scores of 85th percentile or above in English, Maths or Science will qualify them for the ASSET Talent Search test.

Ei ASSET Talent Search test dates: India: 5th and 6th February 2022 If you are a school and need the data of students who have qualified for ATS, you can request the same from Ei. To know more or to enrol, please visit: You can also write to with your queries.

GenWise Summer Program 2022 (Residential)- May 8- May 29

Registrations are now open to the program for Ei ATS Gold/ Silver/ Bronze scholars, entering Grades 8, 9, 10 in 2022. An early bird discount is also available till Feb 28.

The program offers 10 exciting courses- from Forensic Science, Artifical Intelligence, Machine Learning, Creative Writing, Economics, Physics, Design & Engineering, to Urban Sustainability. Students can pick from 3-week, 2-week, and 1-week options. For more details, visit the summer program page here.

Microbes – the good, the bad and the ugly! This week’s edition of ‘Talk to a Scientist’ features Dr. Karishma Kaushik and Snehal Kadam addressing questions such as- Are all microbes bad? What role do microbes play in our life? What microbes are good for us? Do we have microbes in our body? On Sat, Jan 15, 2022 at 5 PM IST for children from ages 6-16. Register here.

Terahertz Spectroscopy: New window to explore the world is part of the highly popular Chai and Why series from the cool TIFR outreach team and is scheduled on Sunday, Jan 16, 2022 at 11 AM. Zoom, YouTube & FBLive links available here. Here’s what the session blurb says-

The terahertz region of the electromagnetic spectrum, with frequencies from 0.3 to ~10 terahertz (THz) or wavelengths from 1 mm to 0.03 mm lies between the microwave and the far infrared. In comparison with X-rays they are intrinsically safe, non-destructive and non-invasive. Recent advances in THz sources, detectors and imaging systems have enabled applications ranging from cancer detection and materials characterization to industrial product inspection and even detection of concealed weapons at airports!

Join us online as we visit, TIFR’s Fundamental Optics, Terahertz and Optical Nanostructures (FOTON) lab where researchers work on the generation and detection of THz radiation and THz spectroscopy of various different materials.

About the Speakers: Dhanashree Chemate and Ajinkya Punjal are research scholars at the FOTON lab.


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