As educators, we are surrounded by tiny humans the majority of our time. These tiny beings come with A LOT of feelings and emotions that sometimes are really hard for them. If too many of your students are having a hard time coping, this can then become a problem for YOU and disrupt a lot of instructional time.
Good thing for you, is that I’m here to help! Learning how to teach about emotions, while giving strategies on how to deal with them, are not only important for classroom function, but they are also crucial life skills for your students. Let’s get into 5 easy, quick tips when teaching emotions and coping strategies!
#1: Identifying Feelings
The first step in helping students understand how to deal with their emotions is by teaching them how to identify and name their feelings. Using visual aids, such as a feelings chart, can help students learn to recognize what it is they are feeling.
Students can also learn to identify their feelings by certain body sensations. Having open discussions on what your body might be feeling when you’re upset or happy is another great way to help students learn to put a name to their emotion. Check out this anchor chart our class created while talking about feeling tense after reading Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns It’s OK to Back Away!
#2- Healthy Ways to Cope
There are so many ways to cope with our feelings. The ways some of our students might decide to deal with those feelings may SEEM negative, but we have to understand that those ways may be the only way they know how. Always try to remember that ALL behavior is communication. If we want better communication skills, we must step in to model and teach students explicitly healthier ways to cope, just like with academics.
One great way to set students up for success in testing which coping strategies work best for them, is by creating a calm down corner in the classroom. This is NOT to be a corner where students are sent to when they aren’t following the rules, but instead it is a safe haven they can access at any time their emotions become too much. Carve out a corner in your room and make it cozy. Stock it with relaxing items, calming strategy posters, and books to read to remind them that feelings are natural and okay. This gives them a good foundation on how to cope and calm themselves and space to do so. Teach them how to notice when they may need extra support or where they are on their emotional elevator.
#3 It’s All About the Mindset
A growth mindset transforms a student’s thinking from “This is too hard and I can’t do it” to “I’m up for the challenge and I won’t give up!”. Teaching students to persevere and maintain a positive outlook during hard times is tough, but it’s not impossible! In THIS post, you can learn all kinds of fun and engaging ways to teach this important concept!
Journaling is another great way to help release thoughts and feelings that aren’t helping us move forward and push the reset button our growth mindset. There are so many amazing prompts that help students work through difficult thoughts and feelings. Even if writing skills aren’t totally developed yet, every kid can still feel like the author of their own growth mindset book. With this resource, students trace positive affirmations throughout the pages and once they are finished, it is a PERFECT book to read as a reminder for whenever they need it! This trace and read growth mindset book is just ONE of many amazing activities created to help students master this concept and you can grab it HERE!
#4 Explicitly Teach Social Emotional Skills
Social emotional learning is a crucial component not just in the classroom, but in life in general. CASEL, or the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, defines SEL learning in a way that drives home just how important it is.
“Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”
I think it’s safe to say that we definitely strive to help our students feel and show empathy, have positive relationships, and make responsible choices. This is why social emotional learning is SO important. Like with anything you’re teaching primary students, you have to EXPLICITLY teach it. They need you to model what it looks like, what it sounds like, what it doesn’t look like, etc. The skills you cover are going to be what YOUR students need.
This emotions bundle has you COVERED from hands on sorts, journals, mental check ins, to fun games, writing crafts and more! Students will learn how to name their feelings, along with several resources to let others know how they are feeling so we can all help each other navigate through those tough emotions. There are resources to help students remember healthy strategies to cope with hard feelings. Each of these activities are designed to help kids become emotionally intelligent beings in and out of the classroom! You can find it HERE!
Have some fun AND identify some emotions with this engaging emotions slider craft freebie!
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#5 Using Literature
Last but not least, read alouds! Of course we couldn’t go through teaching all about emotions without some great literature involved! There are TONS of books that cover an array of emotions and different ways to deal with them. Remember to gather diverse literature so that ALL students are represented and can SEE themselves in the characters learning how to handle all kinds of emotions.
A Little Spot Books- are a set of eight wonderful books all focused on helping students understand their feelings and emotions in a way that makes sense. They help facilitate conversations about our emotions and healthy ways to express them, as well as help recognize what our body looks and feels like when we are overwhelmed. They can help students learn it’s ok to have big feelings and that we can help them learn how to cope with them.
The Way I Feel- This is a wonderful book that opens up discussion on how children can feel and the range of emotions we have. It takes time for students to understand their feelings and then to be able to name them. When reading books about different feelings, they can begin to understand the WIDE range of emotions we all have.
Ruby Finds A Worry- This is a brand new favorite of mine! This book helps students understand what it feels like to have a worry that won’t go away, and how we can deal with it so it doesn’t continue to get bigger and bigger. We need to acknowledge the fact that our kiddos have big feelings and worries just like we do. We need to help them understand that it is OK and here is how we deal with it.
These are just a FEW books I use to cover emotions, coping strategies and other social emotional topics. Check out THIS blog for more amazing literature!
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Do they need help with being better friends to each other? Do some students simply need their own space and self-managing strategies to help deal with their emotions? Maybe they have no idea how to manage conflicts. Some of them might not know how to deliver a genuine apology. It’s quite possible that the entire class could use a lesson on making good choices. Or maybe they learned about something that triggered empathy and they wanted to explore that more. There are SO many skills that will need to be taught, but there are just as many strategies that can be used to tackle them. With great resources you can set your students up for success. Check out this GROWING bundle to help students practice some social emotional skills in your classroom! Check out these gems to help student’s practice in your classroom and learn more about how to use them HERE!
Making Good Choices
I really hope you enjoyed learning about how to teach your students to have a growth mindset! Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! Not only will you get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including the Emotions Slider Craft FREEBIE! You will also have exclusive access to tons of digital how-to videos! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
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