Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Helping Children Self-Regulate Their Emotions

Happy. Sad. Excited. Mad. Afraid. Worried. Angry.  Learning to self-regulate emotions can be hard for young children.  Emotions can esculate quickly in young children which can further isolate them from their peers.  Since children learn social skills from playing and working alongside their peers, the impact of negative behaviors and emotions can make getting along with others more difficult.

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.

Thanks for stopping by the book study.  You can link up below with your blog posts.

15 comments:

  1. My head teacher and I have incorporated many of these strategies in dealing with our children's emotions. I particularly like the idea of role playing with puppets. Thank you so much for the ideas. -- Jocelyn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Children do love puppets for role-playing. Thank you Jocelyn for visiting my blog. Stop by again soon.

      Delete
  2. I agree; building relationships is the key. Kids must know you care and are interested in them and what they have to say. I also agree that it's important to validate a child's emotions. Often adults discount what a child is feeling. They can think it is unjustified or an overreaction. That may be, but the child is feeling what he is feeling. We can help him name it and learn how to deal with it. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right Scott. These feelings do overwhelm our children. What is justified in a child's mind is completely different and may seem so small to us. It's our job to name it and help them learn how to regulate these emotions with empathy, patience, and direction. Model, practice, role-play, repeat. Thanks for visiting my blog.

      Delete
  3. I have completely fallen in love with Cheri Meiners series "Learning to Get Along". My preschool and 4K classes have responded well to them. Here's a link to the series on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=cheri+j+meiners+books&tag=googhydr-20&index=stripbooks&hvadid=34223012027&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=14653372273245064477&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_5cza8c7xdp_b

    I've also had a very good response to the book "How Full is Your Bucket for Kids". My students seem to have grasped the concept that they can "fill someone's bucket or dip their bucket".

    We have also, occasionally, implemented the "Second Step: Social Emotional Learning for Early Learning which incorporates the use of puppets, visual cues and stories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the bucket filler books! The Challenging Behavior in the Classroom actually refers to the Second Step: Social Emotional Learning for Early Learning and I have personally used this program. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas.

      Delete
  4. Excellent ideas! Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Karen for visiting my blog. Come back again soon :)

      Delete
  5. I will try to apply some of your strategies good to read this post and I can �� apply and omit some if my strategies that not really working

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for joining our book study. I am glad you found some strategies to use with your children. Come back again soon.

      Delete
  6. Role-playing and modeling language plays a huge part in my 3 year old classroom. I find often my students don't have the language to express his/her emotions which causes frustration. My goal is to model the language so that my students can express what he/she is feeling- happy/sad/angry. They enjoy the role-playing because they can visually see similar scenarios that happen everyday. Overall, very informative post- thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 3 year olds! They are so full of energy and need many opportunities to practice self-regulation. The book states that 3 years of age is a crucial stage of building social-emotional development. Thank you for helping our little ones grow in this area. Modeling is so important. Thanks for participating in our book study. Come back soon.

      Delete
  7. Excellent tips and strategies! It is so much more rewarding for both teachers and students when kids can learn how to regulate their own emotions vs. trying to control them through charts or systems that use inauthentic or extrinsic rewards.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree Vanessa. It is very rewarding to watch their growth in this area through meaningful teacher modeling, role-playing, and developmentally appropriate activities.

      Delete
  8. Thank you for reminding me that the child with the challenging behavior needs help re-entering the group. There are days when I tend to give more to the child who has been hurt, and forget that the one who did the hurting needs help also. There is usually a reason for their challenging behaviorbehavior

    ReplyDelete