Emotional regulation is one of the biggest challenges and developmental stages for a young child and their family. They are having new experiences each day, new relationships and are beginning to learn that they are separate from their parents while navigating how exactly to manage that. This can become all too overwhelming for a little one. Incorporating and providing ways to recognise, regulate and notice their own and others emotions is a fundamental developmental stage and needs to be supported appropriately. One of the most important factors of emotional development is this awareness of their own emotional state and that of others. Introducing Empathy; the awareness of another’s emotional state and the ability to share this experience with that person. Now I think we can agree this is a fundamental skill for all humans to co-exist with each other in harmony. Does this all sound familiar to you but you don’t know where to start addressing it? Here are some tips to introduce with your little ones that we use in our pilates programs to introduce emotional awareness.
A great technique we use when children are over excited and struggling to focus is some deep breathing as we move. This is perfect for toddlers as they will copy movements improving concentration and engagement significantly. Start standing, take a big breath in through the nose and reach up to the sky and then breath out through your mouth and flop down bending over to the ground. This is how we start most classes, its a great reset during a changeover of tasks or when there is a room full of over excitement, fatigue or overwhelmed children.
This is stretching done with movement, so flowing through from one position to the other. A benefit to this is that it is not just flexibility but core stability and strength as well and when you team it with breath it works wonders for emotion regulation, calming, focus and mindfulness.
Group Discussion & Story telling is another effective tool we use throughout our classes where we listen to others ideas and build on each others comments to make a story. Working with others to make up a story and each have an input is great for kids to learn how to build on concepts, take turns and read others behaviours.
Still feeling a little lost? We have a program specifically for emotional regulation in our online series. For more see our Happy Hippos which is designed specifically for emotion regulation. Head over to our Online Program – Happy Hippos.