Helping students navigate their emotions in their world is important to success throughout the school year as well as life.
Research shows that when teachers help students learn to manage their feelings during the school day, they become better problem solves and communicators when involved in an emotional issue. They are also better able to engage in the learning environment.
In an age where the media and medical organizations are saying that teens (and even younger) are stressed out, overly anxious or even depressed, there needs to be opportunities for them to recognize and manage their emotions in a healthy way.
Watch this engaging, informative and unforgettable TED Talk by psychologist and author Susan David:
Dr. David offers 4 steps in teaching children how to work through negative emotions. They are feel it, show it, label it and watch it go.
Validate the emotion instead of saying “don’t be _____”.
Accept any emotion instead of using expressions like ‘boys don’t cry’. We are humans, not robots and our feelings make us honest with ourselves.
Ask students, ‘how do you think (this person) is feeling?’ Teacher them to understand what is fear, panic, resentment, etc. Look at facial expressions, body placement.
WATCH IT GO
All emotions have value, but they will also pass. Give examples of what an emotion feels like and then what it feels like after it passes and what was done to help it pass.
When experiencing similar emotions in another situation, Dr. David says ask ‘who do you want to be in this situation?’ and ‘what’s important to you about this?’ Students will feel stronger as they start to learn that it is not how they feel that is important, but HOW THEY RESPOND to the feeling that makes the difference. Show students how to use emotion rather than be used by it – ‘what’s the function (of the specific emotion)?’
Literature for the Classroom
Book Riot has a great list of 23 Children’s Books About Emotions for young’ens. For teens, check out Epic Reads 10 Young Adult Books Guaranteed to Give You All the Feels.