Thinking Through Emotional Regulation
While watching the show, Bachelor In Paradise, I was thinking that these classy celebrities and toddlers have quite a bit in common. They cry often, they have BIG emotions, and they don’t know how they are feeling from one moment to the next.
Emotional regulation is an area that has always been an interest. Having worked with so many kids in the classroom, I know that when kids are not emotionally regulated, they are not available to learn. In the same way, when I am not in control of my own emotions, everything seems infinitely more difficult.
Perhaps it is the back to school excitement but Keener has been really fired up, especially in the evening. He literally starts spinning which only makes Grace follow suit. Monkey see monkey do.
Thinking back to my previous post about a time and place for everything, I’ve started thinking more about ways I can help Keener identify what his body is feeling. I know if I have been sitting for too long in a staff meeting, I make a change and stand in the back instead. If I’m feeling anxious, exercise and fresh air is often my winning ticket.
Yet for kids, when they are feeling too much energy, we often tell them just to stop. Or at least that is what I have been doing and it has not been working.
At Keener’s Back To School night last week, the teacher talked about identifying feelings. While I try to be good about this, I need to be better. Being able to identify how you feel is an incredibly valuable skill. As an adult, this isn’t always easy. “I’m not sure how I feel. I’m starting to fall in love with you. I think I’m in love with you. I’m not sure I’m in love…” Oh Paradise.
There are so many incredible resources available to parents, teachers, therapists, etc. to help educate children about emotional regulation. One of the easiest for young children is pictures.
While unfortunately I didn’t get a clear picture of the feelings chart in Keener’s classroom, these images are from Boardmaker. In the world of special education, Boardmaker is a teacher’s best friend. However, a quick internet search for “feelings” will yield tons of examples from Boardmaker as well as other images of faces.
Feelings vs Emotions
According to the website, https://psychologenie.com, feelings and emotions are connected but not the same:
“Feelings are formed by emotions. But although two people may experience similar emotions, their feelings may differ. Personal experiences and temperament play a pivotal role in deciding what you feel. Feelings are much richer, have many more layers, and run a lot deeper than emotions. Thus, it is hard to get rid of them.” This is all to say that feelings and emotions are complicated, for ourselves and for our kids.
Below are the strategies that I am currently using to help Keener and Grace:
- Talk about my own feelings/emotions often. Mommy is feeling tired right now. OR I was feeling really frustrated earlier when my computer wasn’t working. It made me feel upset.
- Ask my kids how events made them feel. When that boy took your hat, how did that make you feel? How did you feel at school today?
- Let kids know feelings/emotions come and go. Keener, when I dropped you at school, I could tell you were feeling a little nervous and scared. But when I picked you up, you had a smile on your face! You weren’t feeling scared any more.
- Give them ideas on what they can do when they feel each emotion. Keener, when your body has all of this extra energy, you can help your body go from feeling crazy to feeling calm. Let’s try doing some slow candle breathing together. Take a deep breath in and slowly blow it out. Do you feel your body feeling more calm?
Most importantly, how will the final four couples sort out their feelings to know if they really found “the one?” Find out next Tuesday for the most dramatic BIP finale yet…