Top tips for helping children manage their emotions

Originally posted in 2015, this post was updated in August 2020. 

Be You provides opportunity to really explore children’s ability to manage their emotions, and to outline how we as adults and educators can assist them to do this.

We know this is a complex and an emotionally-charged area of our work as early childhood educators.

Insight from brain research

One effective way to understand the significance of emotions is to look at how the brain works.

Areas and functions in the brain are connected vertically, horizontally and diagonally. The emotional brain sits somewhere in the middle. It is constantly trying to link between our upstairs and downstairs brain, the left and right and the memories. Integration enables the left and right hand brain to work as a team, and the upstairs and downstairs brain to support each other.

Behaviour, emotions and learning

Emotions are central to learning … and knowing how to manage and respond to emotions in positive ways are skills that impact all areas of life.  Emotions help and hinder our learning, they colour how we feel and think about ourselves, our world and the people in it.  A child expresses what they are thinking, feeling and needing though their behaviour.

The Be You BETLS  observation tool can be used to assist educators to gather and document information and observations about children and young people. This will allow educators to recognise and understand potential mental health issues and identify strategies to assist in managing emotions

Learning how to manage emotions is both caught and taught. Educator responses to a child’s behaviour are the key to how the child manages their behaviour and emotions. When supporting social and emotional learning, modelling and explicit teaching can have a major impact on children’s ability to learn how to manage their emotions.

Further strategies and resources 

Watch Be You webinar: Supporting children with complex needs. This recording explores:

What role do I play as an educator?

Some practical strategies for educators discussed within the webinar

o Instructional support

o Routines and rhythm

o Triggers and fight, flight or freeze reactions

o Behaviour specific praise

o Emotional awareness and regulation

o Attachment and connectedness.

Watch Be You Webinar: Behaviour and wellbeing. This webinar explores Behaviour, its meaning and how we as educators can and do respond. It discusses the use of the Be You BETLS observation tool.

Be You provides educators with knowledge, resources and strategies for helping children and young people achieve their best possible mental health. This article was first published on KidsMatter (now known as Be You) Early Childhood’s blog in 20165

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Be You

Early Childhood Australia’s Be You team is a highly qualified and experienced multidisciplinary team of professionals committed to promoting and supporting positive mental health and wellbeing in the early years. Together, with Be You partners, Beyond Blue and headspace, the ECA team support educators in implementing the Be You Professional Learning and continuous improvement processes across early learning services and schools.

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