What do I do if/when a child says she feels sad, starts to cry or expresses strong emotions during an IM4U activity or other related situation?

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Then gently move on. No need to attempt to change their emotions, those will change naturally.  What’s important is that they, and their feelings, are accepted in the class. THAT’S a big deal and a lesson they will remember for a lifetime!

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You can keep it light and relaxed. Here is one simple approach you can use. Feel free to use your own words:

  • Thank you for sharing how you are feeling. I can see that you are feeling sad.
  • Many of us feel sad at one time or another. And it’s okay to share what we are feeling.

 

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Young children may be experiencing many emotions in the classroom. For some it may the first time they are being asked to express and manage their feelings in a group. They are learning to handle their feelings so it is important to be accepting, supportive and patient. Studies have shown that a simple acknowledgement such as; “I understand” or even “mmm…” without saying too much can soothe an upset young child.  Adults often make the mistake to talk to the child too much. Of course, a warm lap or a friend to sit with always helps too.

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First, remember that the point of the activities are to learn to identify what we are feeling and share that appropriately, within a healthy, safe classroom environment. The point is not to change everyone’s mood. Building a “healthy” classroom community starts with sharing. The skill of identifying feelings and thinking about them, (Drawing, finding words to describe them), as an important phase of child development.

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