Creative Childcare Consulting
Call Today! 403-818-9305 or 403-607-3133
Call Today! 403-818-9305

Role Modeling Emotional Intelligence; Your Superpower 


Little children experience big emotions and cannot handle those feelings in what many adults see as “appropriate” ways. Fortunately, our children take part in high quality early learning programs staffed by adults whose brains have matured and are positioned to show children how to manage their big emotions.Role Modeling Emotional Intelligence Your Superpower

The first thing we can do is recognize emotional cues made by the children around us. We can help them label those feelings. If you see a child frowning and turning away from a situation, you can say,” I see you are leaving with a frown on your face. I do that when I am unhappy or angry. What is going on?” or “What is making you feel this way?”

Everyone wants their feelings to be validated, even when we are grown adults. As professionals, we can acknowledge those feelings, not sweep them under the rug by saying, “you’re ok.” If a child is angry, sad, hurt, lonely, frustrated etc.…they are NOT ok. They have feelings that they are making them feel icky, and they need help the work through those feelings.

It is enough to say, “you look sad. May I sit with you?” Children are looking for a safe connection with a trusted adult. They may not be able to tell you what they’re thinking, but they will often begin to calm down and feel safe in the presence of someone who is simply supporting them. Perhaps you can talk a little about what you do when you feel scared. “I really like it when someone holds my hand when I am scared. Would you like me to hold your hand?” Remember that it’s ok for the child to say or indicate they don’t want that. You can respond with, “Ok, is there something I can do that will help you feel better, or would you like me just to sit here?”

If a friend or loved one patted you on the back and said, “you’re ok” when you were experiencing a crisis, how would you feel? I don’t imagine you would stop feeling horrible and get back to work. You would probably feel worse because you were dismissed by someone you trusted, and your feelings were marginalized. Why do we consistently do this to the children in our care? Perhaps we are trying to stay on schedule, or maybe no one has shown us a different way to handle these situations.

When we address children’s emotions, we begin building them a foundation for self-regulation. In turn, we may also discover that we are inadvertently making things too difficult for the children. Perhaps our schedules are too fast, or our activities are too complicated. When we address the reasons behind the meltdowns and the challenging behaviours, we may need to rethink how we plan for the children.

When we honestly talk about emotions, we allow children to be part of the solution. For example, if a child is new in the room and is having difficulty with separation, their classmates will likely be interested in why that child is crying.  When we honestly discuss fear, loneliness and uncertainty, the crying child feels validated, the other children understand the situation, and everyone’s emotional learning grows. The well-adjusted children may go out of their way to include the new child or perhaps even talk about how they felt when they first came into the room. As the teacher, you can include stories about when you felt lonely and scared and how you handled it.

Emotions are challenging and messy, especially for young children who are developing their social-emotional intelligence. What small steps can you take in your room this week that will improve outcomes for all of your children?

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