An unintentional consequence of teaching children to self-regulate could be that they learn to suppress what they are feeling because they think the only acceptable emotions to show and express is that they are happy. That is not the lesson that we want children to receive. We want to teach them to recognize when they are upset and the proper ways to express themselves.
We learned about emotions with Mother Goose Time as apart of the families and pets theme. This makes sense because we feel a wide range of emotions directed at families and pets and learning that it is ok to acknowledge them is an important lesson. Especially right before Kindergarten.
One of the emotions that does not get enough time spent on it is being Grumpy! Everyone feels grumpy. Sometimes like the fellow in this story by Suzanne Lang you just wake up grumpy. We all know that children have those days where they are upset and they do not know why, they tell you they are not grumpy and then they end up having an epic melt down. So, I used this story on the theme day of sad to show there are different types of sad and to engage them in ways they can address their sad, grumpy or mad emotions. It was great! We discussed if it was ok for Jim to yell at his friends. We asked if we should yell at our friends or family just because we are happy and we asked the super important question....Do we always need to try and cheer friends up when they feel bad. Grumpy Monkey introduced the concept of just.... sitting and being there for a grumpy/sad friend. We don't always need to smile to show we are happy and you don't have to pretend you are happy if you are not. Making sure they understand that can make a world of difference in the way a child can and will process their emotions. Having a place in your home or classroom for someone having extreme emotions to sit and calm down when they are upset is important. It needs to be somewhere they can go themselves and they need to know it is ok to go there when they are upset.
For my preschool class we go through the entire Mother Goose Time day as written in the lesson plan book that comes with the curriculum. So one of the fun hands on projects to do, was to have a tea party with stuffed animals. Which turned out GREAT! this happened on the day devoted to sharing and we had a tea set on the table where they brought their friend with them and shared their tea. I purposely made it so that the children did not have enough tea parts so that they HAD to share different parts and pass them around the table. It encouraged my shy ones to speak to their classmates and for everyone to use their manners and to be KIND. I had forgotten how much fun tea parties were and fully intend to have one again with them....but with real food and a tea set I do not have to remind them to not put in their mouth.
Overall the emotions of the week have been healthy and I hope that our willingness to talk about them in class and to discuss the not so fun emotions helps them to know that feeling them is ok and normal. Please stress this to your little ones and remember to.....
Live Long and Keep Teaching!