Posted on 01/29/2018 at 09:11 AM by Blog Experts

Do you ever want to “throw in the towel?”  Just say, “Enough already?”  If not, you are a rare breed.  Most of us have wanted to “just be done” every now and then.  Let’s face it; life can be stressful.  Hopefully you have some stress-relieving strategies you use regularly to help you continue forward.  Strategies such as deep breathing, yoga, exercise, being creative, talking with a trusted friend, meditation, journaling, and taking a walk can all help diminish the stress and negative feelings in our lives.   Having a support system, even if it is just one person to talk to, makes stressful times more bearable.     

Children get stressed too.  But rather than throwing towels, they might throw tantrums.   They haven’t yet learned how to manage the strong emotions they are feeling.  Their actions are doing the talking for them because they don’t yet have the communication skills to tell you why they feel the way they do.  Kicking, screaming, running away, grabbing, tantruming- these can all be forms of communication.  Because you are a teacher, you have a powerful opportunity to teach young children social-emotional skills.  This month you will learn tips to help children learn to manage their frustration and learn how to cope with negative feelings they might be expressing.

Tip #1:  Love them first.  Let each child know you are happy he/she is in your classroom.  Find a way to make each child feel special.  Talk to them and find out what makes them smile, what they love to play with, what makes them feel afraid.  Before children can reach their maximum potential, they need to have a sense of belonging.  Building a relationship with each child is the first and most important step in a strengths-focused classroom.  

Tip #2:  Help your students become emotionally literate.  Emotional literacy is the capacity to identify, understand and express emotions in a healthy way.  Children who are emotionally literate are better able to manage their feelings.  You can help children become emotionally literate in a variety of ways.  Teach children to label feelings; read books about emotions; talk about your feelings; identify how you think various pictures of people might be feeling; use many emotion words, not just “happy, mad, sad, and glad;” play Feelings Bingo; and sing songs about feelings.  Use language such as “I FEEL angry” instead of “I AM angry.”  This gives the message that feelings do not define who you are, but rather are a temporary characteristic of how you feel.  “Angry I FEEL” is so much better than “Angry I AM.”  Resources found on the CSEFEL website (here's the link) can assist you with bringing emotional literacy in your classroom.   

Tip #3:  Teach children what to do when expressing their feelings.  All feelings are valid; it’s what we do with those feelings that is either acceptable or not acceptable.  As a teacher, teach the children in your classroom what is acceptable.  We all feel mad every now and then.  How can children in your classroom express anger?  Ask them what they think would be acceptable.  They can come up with some pretty great ideas.  Teach them what acceptable mad, frustrated & angry, etc. behavior looks like.  Teach them calming strategies such like deep breathing.  Have a calming corner in place for children to go to when they feel a need to be by themselves or when they need to begin a calming sequence.  

Tip #4:  Teach, model, practice, and promote friendship skills.  When you see desired friendship skills happening in your classroom, promote them by letting the children know you notice!  

In classrooms that have atmospheres of friendship, you should see:

  • Adults giving time and attention to children
  • Children playing together much of the time
  • Smiling Faces
  • Laughing
  • Sharing; taking turns
  • Helpful actions

In classrooms that have atmospheres of friendship, you should hear:

  • Adults comment positively on children’s friendly behaviors
  • Adults speaking kindly to one another
  • Children complimenting each other

You have the power to cultivate an atmosphere of friendship in your classroom!  

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