Have you ever felt so angry that you actually ‘see red’? For me, that looks like tunnel vision, where everything but my object of anger is blurred, and I see darkness around the edges, and everything does actually have a red hue. I also may not be able to think clearly, and my words are jumbled and confusing.
Have you ever felt so anxious that you cannot seem to do normally easy tasks? For me, that looks like shaking with blurry vision, where I can feel every single heart beat as if a hammer is pounding in my chest? My words come out jumbled and my tongue feels fuzzy.
Have you ever felt such sadness, that your heart feels heavy? For me, I feel my chest tighten, my muscles are so relaxed that I have difficulty grabbing a tissue or walking to grab something I need, all the while, my eyes burn with tears.
Have you ever been so excited that your cheeks ache from use? For me, I start jumping and dancing around, talking what seems to be a mile-a-minute, laughing uncontrollable, and falling into giggle fits.
If we, as adults share in these same feelings and emotions, imagine what it is like for a child who has not yet figured out which situations to prevent that cause these emotions? Imagine, being new on this planet, still learning the names of these emotions. Imagine not knowing how to control these emotions (which we adults struggle with too!). Imagine being two years old, and feeling these emotions, but not having enough language to tell exactly what you are feeling, but still feeling that emotion with all your body. Imagine then, that someone tries to identify why you are crying, but then tells you “Oh, it’s not that bad. You’re okay.”
Often times, adults overlook that emotions and emotional-regulation is learned and not automatic. What I mean by this, is that we forget to call the emotion by name, and acknowledge that the child’s emotions are real and valid (whether you understand or not.) Adults also tend to punish children for “emotional outbursts” by taking objects away or spanking or providing time outs… Though, when you think about it, what do those teach about emotion or emotional control?
Let’s take this a step forward: what could happen if we don’t teach emotional-regulation?
While these seem extreme, I was able to imagine adults in my life that were told to suppress emotion, and have transformed through these steps. Can you picture someone like this that struggles with identifying emotions, or has extremely large emotional ‘outbursts’ that could be scary or worrisome? Do you possibly identify with some of these things?
Just like any other skill, self-calming, emotional understanding, and emotional regulation is taught or learned. When you are looking for a childcare center or a place to work, I encourage you to ask what systems the school is using to teach these skills.
Here are some ways that a school could be teaching these skills:
ii.A stretching station for children to relax, stretch, or jog in place.
Feel free to ask questions or add to the list! I’d love to hear how you manage social-emotional behaviors at your school, within your home, or for yourself. Give this a like and a share with your interpretation! Give me a tag if you feel up to it, with your favorite ways to teach and regulate emotions.
I hope you have a beautiful day, and I wish you well.