Children are helped to become aware of the ways they, and others, experience and show emotion with facial expressions, gestures, tone of voice, language and behavior. They learn specifically to label, scale and sort their feelings, link them to internal thought patterns and external circumstances and find acceptable ways to express them. Planning for upset ahead of time and reflecting on it afterwards, they gain more information and with it, more choice of response. Increasing metta-cognition (the ability to be aware of one’s own thoughts) helps children accept or adjust their thinking and multiple options are explored to work through their unique emotional experience, whether that be reactive or withdrawn, dwelling on things or detouring away from problems into distraction. Emphasis is not always on ‘controlling’ feelings but on working with them to usefully develop mechanisms to anticipate tricky situations and find the resources to deal with them better.
For example: accepting and reading feelings, understanding appropriate expression, recognizing others’ emotion, demonstrating caring, using active listening, and working on understanding personal identity, difference and self acceptance.
Children are encouraged to view the results of impulsive and unthinking behaviors and recognize their impact on relationships and results at home and in school.
Inappropriate behaviors are observed and trigger situations documented and shown to the child with a constructive rather than critical approach. Children are encouraged to help devise programmes which assist them to move from behaviors which are deemed unacceptable towards gradual improvements through awareness training, vigilance and the teaching of self talk and self management. Monitoring and reinforcement is provided, through a staged process, towards agreed goals.
For example; managing impulsivity, accepting consequences, developing problem solving skills, learning self management and organization, creating improved study approaches, reducing aggression and managing anger/upset.
Children are guided to examine norms of behavior and recognize any inability to conform and the resultant reactions from others. They are helped to become aware of or develop rules and reminders both for known and ‘hidden’ rules.
They also need to explore and access their own motivations and values for social compliance. This requires strategic programmes which build skills step by step, with realistic goal setting and close supervision and support.
Younger children learn the "how-to" whilst older children explore social relationships, both of which lead to greater understanding, improved behaviors, enhanced self confidence and increased sociability.
For example; joining in play, reading social cues, managing conflict, seeking help, developing good sportsmanship and communication skills such as joining, making small talk, maintaining conversation, requesting, refusing acceptably, commenting, asserting, complimenting, apologizing, etc.
Areas of Support
Children who experience dreaminess or distractibility in class, who may disturb others to avoid struggle, can benefit from exploration of their unconscious performance anxiety. Understanding task avoidance means developing awareness of the obstacles to effort and concentration. These include perfectionism, competitiveness, avoidance of error or singular interest or over-emphasis on ‘fun’(classify classroom work as ‘boring’ rather than challenging). Understanding the need for effort, intention and attention and looking at personal strengths and small successes can create improved focus and interest. Visioning the satisfaction of greater success can motivate towards improved organization, attitude or ability.
For example; reducing class-clowning or oppositional behaviors, learning task-approach skills or skills breakdown, managing workload or increasing speed of work, reducing defeatism and distraction, improving homework self-management, etc