Manage negative emotions with prevention and teaching.
Dealing with stress and anger in the preschool environment can require quite a bit of effort -- from both the students and the teacher. Prevent unnecessary stress from occurring in the first place with clear expectations and predictable schedules. However, negative emotions can and will occur in even the best programs. Teach students how to identify and regulate negative emotions -- a crucial life skill.
1Many stressful situations in the preschool classroom can be prevented with a little planning and foresight. Create a consistent and predictable schedule for your preschoolers. Everyone -- young and old alike -- feels more secure when they know what will happen next. Consider posting a visual schedule with words and pictures for your students to refer to. Make sure the schedule is visually accessible to all students and discuss it throughout the day.
2Set clear and consistent expectations for your students. The physical arrangement of your classroom can help guide expectations. Design activity centers with clear physical boundaries. Use shelving, tables or even tape on the floor to mark areas. This will help reinforce expectations such as, "The scissors stay in the writing center." Create classroom rules with your students and refer to them frequently. Simple rules in positive language are best, such as "We have safe bodies" and "Use kind words in preschool."
3Increase independence and decrease stress at the same time. Consider posting photographs of toys and supplies on the item's designated spot. This will increase success and independence during cleanup. Design your schedule to encourage success. For example, if it is hard for students to come inside from recess, plan a high-interest activity right after recess to ease the transition.
4Successful programs can reduce stress and anger with prevention, but negative feelings will still occur. This is actually a positive thing. Young children need to learn how to recognize and regulate their negative emotions. The first step is to teach your students how to identify different emotions. Teach this through games, role play and stories. Identify emotions as they occur in the classroom. "Your block tower fell over and it looks like you feel angry now." Go beyond happy and mad. There are so many emotions -- proud, bored, loving, frustrated and annoyed, to name a few.
5Once preschoolers are able to recognize their emotions, teach them how to respond to the negative feelings, such as stress and anger. The first step is to help them learn to calm down so they can effectively solve whatever problem is causing the anger. Teach your students how to stop, take deep breaths, and/or count slowly to 10. Consider designating a special area in your classroom for calming down. Make sure it is a quiet area, free from distractions, with a soft chair or pillows.
6When children are able to self-calm, they are ready to fix whatever problem was causing them stress or anger. Stay nearby and help students as needed. Consider posting visuals of possible solutions to problems. These could include taking turns, waiting, sharing, asking for help or asking nicely. Celebrate your students when they find solutions -- learning appropriate social emotional skills can be hard work!
Things You'll Need
- Visual schedule
- Visual supports