It can be very frustrating when our little ones throw tantrums for seemingly the smallest of reasons - or worse yet, for no reason that we can even discern. Bear in mind, however, that it can be a difficult journey for children in preschool, playgroup or infant care programmes to navigate. At these ages, children who have yet to master language and do not know how to explain coherently what it is they are upset about.
Tantrums are seen as poor behaviour when children do not get what they want. However, small children are too young to express themselves well, and struggle with their feelings, particularly when they become too overwhelming for their little minds and bodies to handle.
How can we help our children regulate their feelings in the early years, to serve them better and become more resilient later on in life?
Be aware of your child’s emotions and value them
It is important to remember that emotions are not a bad thing. After all, emotion makes us human. Even negative emotions can be valued. Dig deep to find enough patience to hold space and allow your child to express them, and help them through it. Our children need to learn that it is okay to feel emotions and not to bury them deep without addressing them.
Regard emotions as an opportunity for connection
We can reframe our own feelings about our children’s emotions. Instead of regarding them as an inconvenience, or as something that is difficult to handle, remember that they are also an opportunity for growth and development. Although it can be difficult for us to remember this ourselves in a stressful situation, consider that if we respond angrily and emotionally to a child’s feelings, how are we any different?
Listen and validate your children’s feelings
Our children should know that we care about the way they feel. Give them your full attention while they share their emotions. To show them that you are listening, reflect what they are saying back to them, using phrases like “I hear you” and “I understand how you feel” while echoing what they have said about their feelings.
Teach your children how to name their emotions
Equipping your children with the ability to name their emotions is important. This gives them some measure of control and mastery over their feelings, as well as enables them to communicate accurately with you. Give them a name for what they are feeling. Are they envious? Sad? Hungry? Angry? In pain?
Help your children with problem-solving
It may sound like tantrums are condoned in this scenario, but it is important to teach your children that while all emotions are valid and acceptable, destructive behaviours are not. This includes hurting themselves or other people, snatching toys, etc. Teach your little one how to express themselves appropriately and model this behaviour yourself. Pretend play is helpful - act out scenarios so that your child has practice.
How can schools help children manage their emotions and develop emotional intelligence?
As partners in your children’s learning journey, it is crucial that playgroup and preschool teachers walk alongside children to teach them emotional intelligence. KiddiWinkie Schoolhouse has many helpful facilities that assist teachers in doing this.
For younger ones in infant care programmes, there is a Sensory Oasis, a dimly lit room for infants that is available at selected KiddiWinkie Schoolhouse centres that offer infant care services. It is designed to promote infant relaxation and encourage development and stimulation. Being immersed with soothing sounds, captivating aromas and a variety of learning materials, our little ones will get to explore the environment using their five senses. This helps to uplift their sensory play experiences and discoveries while keeping their minds and emotions calm.
For preschoolers, there is a GROW space available in all classrooms, which is a safe space that children can go to in order to help themselves calm down in overwhelming situations. There will be props and materials that they can touch, feel and use to regulate their emotions.
Find out more about how KiddiWinkie Schoolhouse supports your child’s emotional intelligence. Book a tour with us at your preferred center today!
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