Character EssentialsSM for October

Welcome to Emojiville, where the emotional state of the residents is instantly recognizable.

😊 – Happy  🙁  – Sad   😐 – Indifferent 😠– Angry

If only it was this easy in the real world.

Learning to Manage Emotions

Learning to recognize, express and manage feelings takes work and it should start early. As children grow and begin to experience feelings, both in themselves and others, it can be curious and at times frustrating.

In October, the theme for our Character EssentialsSM curriculum is We Have Feelings. “The goal this month is to help children identify, describe and appropriately express feelings, and to help them develop a sense of empathy toward others” said Kiddie Academy Vice President of Education Richard Peterson. “They’ll also learn about self-awareness and self-regulation, traits that will help them manage their emotions, so they can develop positive relationships with others later in life.”

Emotions in the Classroom

Beginning in our infant rooms, we work to support each child physically and emotionally to create an environment where they can feel safe expressing their feelings. For these youngest of students, as they begin to experience the full spectrum of emotions, it can be confusing or overwhelming dealing with these feelings. That’s why, beginning in our toddler rooms, we make children feel safe and secure and nurture their attachments with caregivers. That helps them become more at ease displaying and ultimately understanding their emotions.

As they get older, children are encouraged to articulate their feelings and use self-calming techniques when they’re overwhelmed. We also begin to expand their understanding of emotions beyond their own experience. We teach them how to take cues from others to understand how they’re feeling. Developing a sense of empathy strengthens their relationships with others.

Continue Learning at Home

Learning doesn’t stop in our classroom. Here are some tips from our friends at PBS for Parents on how you can extend the learning to your home:

  • Starting in the earliest months, tune in to babies’ cues—their sounds, facial expressions and gestures—and respond sensitively, which lets babies know their feelings are recognized and important.
  • Label and help toddlers cope with feelings. Emotions like anger, sadness, frustration and disappointment can be overwhelming for young children. Naming these feelings is the first step in helping children learn to identify them and communicates to children that these feelings are normal.
  • Don’t fear the feelings. Feelings are not the problem. It’s what we do—or don’t do—with them that can be problematic.
  • Avoid minimizing or talking children out of their feelings. This is a natural reaction—we just want to make the bad feelings go away. But feelings don’t go away; they need to be expressed one way or another. Acknowledging a child’s strong feelings opens the door to helping her learn how to cope with them.
  • Teach tools for coping. If your 18-month-old is angry that playtime is over, guide her to stamp her feet as hard as she can or to draw how angry she is with a red crayon. Help a two-year-old who is frustrated at not being able to get the ball into the basket brainstorm other ways to solve the problem. Take a three-year-old who is fearful about starting a new school to visit his classroom beforehand to meet the teachers and play on the playground so that the unfamiliar can become familiar.

An activity you can do at home with your child to help them learn about their feelings is to have them draw pictures that illustrate their feelings. You can download this sketch sheet that they can use for their drawings.

Reading with your child is always a good way to help them learn. Here are some books about feelings suggested by the Kiddie Academy Education Department:

Calm-Down Time, by Elizabeth Verdick (Appropriate for toddlers, 2-year-olds)

Duck and Goose: How Are You Feeling, by Tad Hills (toddlers, 2s)

Little Monkey Calms Down, by Michael Dahl (toddlers, 2s)

The Feelings Book, by Todd Parr (3-year-olds)

My Many Colored Days, by Dr. Seuss (3s)

The Very Frustrated Monster, by Andi Green (3s)

The Way I Act, by Steve Metzger (3s)

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