Sometimes the children in my class experience big feelings that they can’t contain or regulate by themselves. This may be over excitement, or anxiety or sometimes it’s anger. I try to teach them, when they are calm, that it’s ok to have big feelings. That feelings aren’t right or wrong, good or bad but they aren’t in charge of us and we have to be in control of our actions, even when we have big feelings.
Sometimes though when the feelings are too big, too much, too present and overwhelming a child can go into crisis. A crisis is when they can’t maintain their regular behaviour because of the big emotions, usually anxiety or anger.
One of the things I’ve learnt is how to phrase what’s happening in my room. If I say a child has lost control, having a tantrum or is kicking off it puts the onus on the child. It sounds negative. It sounds like the child is choosing to do this. However that is not the case, no child wants to be out of control, no child chooses to be so angry that they can’t behave well or to be so upset that they physically can’t stop crying.
Children in crisis need help. They need adults to support them, which at times means giving them a safe space and time without adding extra pressure. They need adults who will teach them strategies, when they are calm, to help them settle and regulate themselves. They need adults who will be consistent and non judging, who are resilient enough and level enough to contain the big emotions, adults who know that all behaviour is communication. Adults who will not match anger with shouting or tears with an attitude of snap out of it. Adults who are the same in crisis moments as they are in sunny playtimes, who do not allow their concept of the child to be determined by the child’s behaviour.
I am learning to be that adult. Some days are easier than others, but that’s my aim. To be an adult who makes a difference for little humans when their emotions get too big.