We have all heard the saying “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” I have never really understood why you don’t get upset, and figured it was a diplomatic way for teachers to quickly hand out materials and way to solve a problem. As an Early Childhood Educator, I believe that feeling and labeling your feelings is important and young children need the words and tools to label and express their emotions. I now say, “You get what you get and you HANDLE your upset.”
At TCEE we implement a social/emotional curriculum based on “We Thinkers! A Social Thinking Curriculum”. It was designed to illustrate to young children the skills used in basic conversation. How we interpret the thoughts, beliefs, intentions, emotions, knowledge and actions of another person along with the context of the situation to understand that person’s experience.
Recently I have been leading small social groups in each classroom. Our current topic has been learning the concept Size of the Problem. A problem is something that happens that was not part of the plan and makes people feel uncomfortable. Small problems can be taken care of quickly and is either solved by the child alone or with the help of another child. Kids can help each other solve the problem. An example of this is when you don’t get to sit next to your friend during lunch. Medium problems take more time to solve and require more help from an adult. An example of this is if your child forgets their lunch. Big problems take a lot of time to take care of and needs the help of many people. An example of this is a broken arm at the park.
Two of the classrooms have made a Size of the Problem classroom book that they illustrated and dictated the words and is kept in their library. Another goal of small groups is to increase the children’s emotional vocabulary. For instance, feeling happy can also be described as calm, glad, pleased, wonderful, excited or proud. Feeling sad can also be described as upset, gloomy, disappointed, down or lonely. Feeling mad can also be described as frustrated, bothered, furious or horrible. By helping children label their emotions they are also processing and understanding what they are feeling.
In my home we are currently experiencing huge reactions to small problems with our 2 ½ years old son on an hour to hour basis. I am constantly trying to support him and his development of social skills. One thing that has been extremely helpful is our nightly TV time.
Our son loves the TV show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. And I love it too as each episode highlights a social skill such as empathy, recognizing emotions and social confidence, which are the same skills that I am teaching with the Social Thinking Curriculum. After watching an episode, we chat about what happened in the episode and the social skill that was learned. Whether use your words or taking turns, watching this show together in combination with discussions has increased his initial understanding of social and emotional skills.
We are so lucky that there are so many other TV shows, books and media that support social and emotional skills. Enjoy this list of books that feature feelings and social-emotional skills.