How We Can Help Children Understand and Cope with Their Feelings

“Children’s emotions are as real as yours. Just because they might get sad over the color of their cup, doesn’t make their feelings any less real”. – Rebekah Lipp

Helping children manage and cope with their emotions is a crucial part of a every teachers guidance. We do not label children who have such behavior in a certain way but rather understand that all children have different reactions to stress. Behind this stress is hidden frustrations that no one has considered and strong emotions that they cannot manage. Children experience different ways of responding in different situations. If we teach them to be aware of their emotions, they will manage to overcome them and overcome difficult situations.

3 Typical Causes of Stress

  1. The Power of Example
    • Children, in the first part of their life, learn by imitation, so if they see that a child has achieved what he wanted by using aggression, they will be tempted to do the same in a similar situation. Children imitate what they see on TV, so it’s good to know what kids are watching.
  2. Anxiety/Frustration
    • When children become agitated they fail to control their entire energy, and they do not know how to use it, so they have to express themselves in a way that could be disruptive.
  3. Communication – Most children do not know how to verbalize how they are feeling and will experience emotions that they cannot express like being agitated or upset.

Strategies That we Incorporate

  1. Knowing the Child
    • Let’s make sure the little one can verbalize his feelings and clearly express his desires and needs. If we exercise together how to ask for a toy from a colleague, if we teach him to solve small conflicts through communication and become conscious of his own emotions (sadness, anger, fear, etc.), we have taken steps in learning the emotional alphabet.
  2. Forms of Self Control
    • Emotions can easily escalate and lead to inappropriate behaviors, so if the child is taught to control emotions when it’s just getting out of shape it they can easily avoid being overwhelmed. Listening to music, running and moving, we release our emotions. We’re going to teach our children to think of something beautiful to help him calm down.
  3. Positive examples
    • If we have positive examples around the child, it will be easier for them to learn to behave the same way.
  4. Look at it
    • Watch the child, not just to make sure that the environment they are in is secure, but also to see how it feels. If you can identify situations that might cause him to have an hostile or reactive behavior or if you notice his emotions climb, you can help him calm down before their emotions sets in.
  5. Be Calm
    • Stay calm. Speak calmly. React calmly. Teachers are an example of how children should react.  When we are remain calm and respectful, we will also teach them the same thing.
  6. Know the limits
    • Avoid putting your child in situations that are beyond their limits or for which they are not emotionally prepared. Lasting things are done in small steps.
  7. Alternative solutions.
    • It is not enough to teach them to remain calm, we also need to teach them to find alternative solutions. They can ask for help from an adult or go to play with something else or with someone else. Depending on the situation, it is good to be prepared to make a decision so everyone is happy.
  8. How do you feel
    • How do they feel? Talk to the child about how the other feels when the child is frustrated with their environment. Explain to them that outbursts hurt other children’s feelings as well as theirs. Most children are naturally empathetic and after realizing that they can someone upset they will avoid doing that.
  9. Praise The Child
    • Make sure you do not make the child feel bad or guilty. Be patient with them. They go through a normal development phase and learn what they can and cannot do. Focus on positive aspects and appreciate every success, however small and teach them that managing this behaviour is a worthy cause, give thanks and tell them they did a good job. Enjoy the time with them and teach the steps of emotions together.

That is why here at Rockabye Daycare we talk about emotions every day at circle time. Each child is telling us how he’s feeling by choosing an emoticon and explaining the reason he’s feeling like that. We try to understand the cause and find a solution for his problem or be happy with him for the things that makes him happy. This way we get to know them better and they tell us about things that make them happy or sad, things that have an impact on them.