Emotional Self-Regulation & Expressing Emotions
Another important aspect of emotional literacy is teaching students how to regulate and express their emotions. All too often, I had students stomping into my room after recess or lunch, angry, visibly upset and either unable to talk about what happened, or immediately come to me loudly blaming someone else for what had happened at recess. It could be that a child was just feeling overwhelmed by the academics, or feeling unsuccessful at a particular task. That’s normal! But, as part of our emotional literacy education, we would practice ways of self-regulating, calming down, and using words which were productive to the conversation in order to get the help needed. My students were learning tools such as deep breathing before coming into the classroom or in a quiet corner, positive self-talk and finding the words for expression, and taking a break when needed, knowing that everyone needs a break here and there and it was a part of our classroom environment. It was a non-judgement space. By giving students these tools, they can learn how to manage their emotions in a healthy way. It was then that we’d be able to talk about the frustrations, work through them, and move on as a classroom community.
Supporting Emotional Development at Home
As parents, you can continue this work at home by normalizing the concept of emotional literacy. Encourage your child to express themselves in a safe space and use positive self-talk when facing challenging situations. You can also read children's books together that deal with emotions, such as these recommended ones on the concept of emotional literacy: "The Color Monster" by Anna Llenas, "In My Heart" by Jo Witek, and "What Should Danny Do?" by Adir Levy. Additionally, you may enjoy: "Raising Emotionally Intelligent Kids" by John Gottman and "The Power of Showing Up" by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson.
In conclusion, emotional literacy is an essential skill for students to develop, and more and more schools are embedding programs which help address and equip students with this super power. By understanding and identifying their emotions, practicing mindfulness, learning emotional self-regulation, and expressing their emotions in a safe space, students can better navigate their big emotions, both at home and at school. Let's work together to create a safe and supportive environment for your child to grow emotionally.
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