Top tips for helping children manage emotions

After the webinar

When faced with challenges the emotional behaviour of young children bring, it is tempting to search for quick fixes and one-size-fits-all approaches. This particular KidsMatter Early Childhood webinar offered an 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, emotion-charged area of our work.ART_0301

Insight from brain research

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

The aim is to integrate and use all areas of the brain -this is especially important when managing and regulating emotions

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 through their behaviour.

Educators often report how they are becoming increasingly concerned with the challenging behaviours in early childhood settings

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. As emotion coaches by modelling and explicit teaching we can have a major impact on children’s ability to learn to manage their emotions.

Educator in Action

Watch KidsMatter Video: Developing children’s social and emotional skills Topic 3.2. Consider four factors that contributed to how this educator was able to stay calm and help this distressed child manage her strong emotion.

  1. Educator’s beliefs, strengths and understanding … and support from colleagues
  2. Connecting = physical touch + asking to help + matching intensity + remaining calm + being in tune
  3. Emotional literacy = recognising emotions > expressing emotion > regulating or managing emotion
  4. Tell the story
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KidsMatter Early Childhood

KidsMatter is a mental health and wellbeing initiative for children. KidsMatter Early Childhood works with early childhood education and care services to support the mental health and wellbeing of young children, their families and early childhood educators using a promotion, prevention and early intervention framework. Visit the website by clicking here.

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