Children can be so little, yet their emotions can seem so big! I am a mom to a four-year-old as well as an early childhood educator who works predominantly with toddlers and preschoolers. Today I want to write about helping children handle their emotions. I am going to focus on the preschool age group as this is where I have most experience and as a mom of a preschooler I see big preschooler emotions everyday!
The first thing I would suggest when working with emotional preschoolers is to try to keep your emotions in check! You will notice if you start yelling, screaming or panicking it is just going to increase the chaos! Try to take a step back, a deep breathe and work with the child with love and empathy. Stay firm with what you might have caused the emotions however validate the feelings.
Talk to the child about how they are feeling both in emotions as well as physically. This will help the child identity the emotions as well as help them to read their body cues about how they feel when they feel certain emotions. Help the child recognize their emotions and coach them on how to relax or calm down if necessary.
Read, read, read and talk! As you read to your children- take time to talk about situations and how characters are feeling. Talk about the emotions in the situations and how characters responded.
Label emotions – both yours and your children. Also, be sure the children know all emotions are fine to feel just sometimes we need to find different ways to react.
Be a good example- don’t be afraid to show emotions and discuss them with your children. It is okay if you are not always a perfect example. If you “mess up” you can talk about it, apologize and try again!
Tell children when they handled something well!!!
Practice mindfulness and other calming activities throughout the day. That way when big emotions come up their may already be tools in place to cope.
Lastly, do not expect more then the child is capable of. Remember the children are still developing and may not yet have the skills or readiness to have self-control or true understanding of emotions.
I hope you have learned something new today! Go and have fun with your children or students!