I have another rant.
Last time I focused on how adults underestimate children’s cognitive skills. This time, I'd like to talk about how adults tend to overestimate children’s social-emotional skills.
Young children have big emotions. It is simultaneously a beautiful and frustrating thing. How many of you can relate to one (or more) of these experiences?
It can be hard as a teacher (or a parent for that matter), to understand, acknowledge, and support children as they learn to regulate their emotions and behaviors. It takes a lot of energy and our own emotion regulation.
I think we sometimes forget how important emotion regulation (or emotional intelligence) is as well as how long it takes to develop. Neurological research shows that the part of the brain that regulates emotions and behaviors (the frontal lobe) isn’t fully developed until young adulthood. Even older children and teenagers have trouble identifying their emotions and deciding how to behave appropriately.
Nevertheless, we expect children as young as two or three to remember the rule the first time we say it. We expect children to be able to keep their emotions in check and not get upset when someone else takes a toy. We expect children to be happy at all times, even during stressful situations.
But these expectations are not realistic and may even be harmful for kids, depending on how harshly we react to their big emotions.
“So often children are punished for being human. Children are not allowed to have grumpy moods, bad days, disrespectful tones, or bad attitudes. Yet, us adults have them all the time. None of us are perfect. We must stop holding our children to a higher standard of perfection than we can attain ourselves.” - Rebecca Eanes
Thankfully, if we can keep our expectations in check, there are ways to start supporting children’s emotional and social development. Here are some ways that we can support young children’s developing emotions.
So, let’s start taking a step back and expect humanness rather than perfection from the children in our care. And let’s find ways to respond with sensitivity and support to children as they develop crucial emotional and social skills.
What about you? How do you have appropriate expectations of children’s emotional development? How do you support children’s emotion regulation?
How do you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? I posed that question to a random selection of contacts via text message. What did I discover? Everyone in my sample group spreads on the PB first, then the J. There are a variety of ways though to apply the jelly, but in my random group, the jelly always comes second.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches make me think about Behavior Guidance, a dimension in the CLASS® toddler observation tool. Especially the first two indicators of behavior guidance: proactive and supporting positive behavior. Proactive is the peanut butter! It goes first. That layer of peanut butter is the base for the jelly, which promotes positive behavior.
I was a kindergarten teacher for eight years at a public school. I loved my job, but somewhere along the road I started to become crotchety. I was often annoyed with my colleagues and frustrated with the demands of the district, and I was sure I knew better than any training or professional development session I would ever be forced to attend.
Shared physical presence is a large part of how we’re used to connecting with each other. Strong connections and relationships are important for children who may have recently experienced loss, high stress, or trauma. As teachers connect with children in a virtual setting, it can be more challenging to think about how to create a safe space for learning, sharing experiences, and taking risks.
When COVID-19 hit and schools shut down, many of us were certain that it would not impact the 2020-21 school year. But after more than 18 months, it’s clear that the pandemic is still with us. The length of the pandemic has only heightened concern about COVID related learning loss - especially among underserved populations.