Teachers deal with students who have trouble self-regulating their emotions in the early childhood classroom daily. In most cases, they usually have more than one. This post is part of our summer book study on dealing with challenging behavior. You can find more information about it HERE.
So what can early childhood teachers do to help our children learn to self-regulate in their classrooms? I love the book Challenging Behavior in Young Children: Understanding, Preventing, and Responding Effectively because it gives a well-rounded view of what our young students need.
WHY TEACH SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL SKILLS
Chapter 7 is devoted to the area of teaching social and emotional skills. The book discusses reasons why some children may struggle with self-regulation and encourages teachers to address it in the classroom setting. Here are a few suggestions that will help you create a classroom community that supports children with challenging behaviors.
1. Be proactive in teaching social and emotional skills. Teaching social and emotional skills will benefit everyone in your classroom.
2. Teaching social and emotional skills will keep the child who is struggling from being isolated even more.
4. Plan fun engaging lessons which include puppets, songs, and stories to discuss emotions and feelings. Students learn from stories about characters who struggle with the same emotions and can relate to their characters' experiences.
5. When emotions arise, name them and talk about them. Help children put into words how they are feeling.
6. Acknowledge their feelings by restating them. This helps young children feel validated with their intense emotions and gives them the words to use the next time they encounter them.
MORE TIPS FOR TEACHING SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL SKILLS
7. Be a role model for the other children. Young children will follow your lead on how to deal with a student who is struggling with challenging behavior. The teacher sets the tone for building a respectful classroom community where children feel comfortable discussing their thoughts and feelings.
8. Use strategies such as self-talk to empower the child to work through these emotions without reacting on them. When a child encounters a situation that leads to negative emotions, provide words to help the child work through the situation by naming the emotion and give solutions for dealing with the problem.
9. Role play different scenarios that arise which lead to negative feelings. Use puppets to show how to handle conflict and being upset, mad, or angry. Include suggestions for how to "cool down" or find a quiet place to gain composure. It is also important to help a student with challenging behavior re-enter the classroom community. Learning how to overcome these emotions and find acceptable ways for engaging in play and classroom activities is equally as hard. Model acceptance of the child as they re-enter.
10. But most importantly, build a relationship with the student. When students with challenging behavior know you care about them, they will feel more at ease in discussing their negative feelings.
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