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Ideas for Teaching Children about Handling Disappointment/Different Emotions

Daily Ideas

  • Throughout the day, model labeling your own emotions (e.g., I feel frustrated because I cannot open this jar of paint).
  • Help children learn to label their emotions when they have conflict with other children (e.g., Bobby, it looks like you are feeling angry because Terrence took away your toy; can you tell Terrence how it makes you feel when he takes your toy away?)
  • When children cry, identify their feelings, and yours too. "I know that was really scary falling off the slide. I was worried about you. I am glad you are okay. Let me rub your back until you feel better." or "It's okay to be sad when mommy leaves. I am glad you are here today... let's find something to play with that might make you feel better"
  • Help children learn how to take deep breaths by "smelling the flowers" and "blowing out the birthday candles." Knowing how to breathe deeply is an important part of learning how to calm down when angry or upset.
  • Give children materials to use to get out their anger. They can use a toy hammer, squeeze playdoh, or run laps at recess. Let them know that it is okay to be angry and that there are safe ways to express anger.
  • Act out the difference between feeling tense (like a robot or statue) and relaxed (like a rag doll or stuffed animal). Have children act it out, too, so they begin to learn to identify when they are becoming wound up.
  • Help children learn to label their own emotions. You can say "It looks like you are really frustrated over here. What is the problem?" or "I can see that you are sad. Do you need a hug?"
  • When a child is upset, choose another child to send over to help that child feel better. Give them some words or materials to use that might help.
  • Have children who are exhibiting problem behavior draw pictures of two or three emotions they are feeling (have a chart with line drawings in front of them to help). A lot of times they are exhibiting problem behavior because they don't know how to express their emotions. Praise them for their drawing and talk to them about how they can respond to themselves and others when they start feeling emotional.
  • Give children different situations and let the children act it out such as “A child is very sad because she/he misses her/his mom.” Talk about the emotion and some things the child might do to feel better.
  • Children's storybooks have lots of opportunities to talk about dealing with certain emotions. Point out characters' simple emotions (happy, sad, mad, excited) and look for opportunities to label more complex ones (disappointed, frustrated, surprised, embarrassed). See what the characters do to deal with those emotions and whether or not the children think it was a good way. Brainstorm other things that could have been done when the characters were feeling that way.

Weekly Ideas

  • Have areas of the classroom labeled for different emotions and instruct the kids to go to those areas when they are feeling a certain way. When a kid is feeling lonely they can go to a certain area where kids usually congregate and find prompts available for engaging with other friends. When a child is feeling proud they can go to an area with a platform, ring a bell, and announce to the class their accomplishment.
  • If children are feeling sad at drop-off, have them "write" a letter or draw a picture to show their caregivers at pick-up time. Talk about how it is ok to feel sad, but that mommy will come back at the end of the day.

Home Ideas

  • Have children who are exhibiting problem behavior draw pictures of two or three emotions they are feeling (have a chart with line drawings in front of them to help). A lot of times they are exhibiting problem behavior because they don't know how to express their emotions. Praise them for their drawing and talk to them about how they can respond to themselves and others when they start feeling emotional.
  • Model techniques to use when dealing with anger and frustration. Show breathing techniques, counting, or whatever works to calm you down.

 


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