Updated: Nov 25, 2019
Finding a child stuck with an upsetting grimace on their face is hard to bare for a teacher.
We naturally just want to get to work helping this child to turn that frown around so that they can be happy and enjoying school.
We also don't have a whole lot of time to be counselling and staying with them 1 on 1.
Am I right?
What’s even worse is when we find a teacher with a frown on their face. Teachers’ who frown are scary ogres who worry children and scare colleagues when they have those nasty looks on their faces. But, sometimes a teacher can’t help it, they may really be struggling emotionally, mentally or physically and they need strategies to turn a frown upside down.
Even scarier that teacher could be US!
Nobody wants to see a student or a teacher struggling with negative emotions like sadness, worry, fear, anxiety, anger, etc. so I decided to share 5 ways you can move from negative to positive in a meta-moment.
Here are my top 5 strategies for shifting from pain and suffering and back to happiness and peace:
2, 4, 6, 8 what do we appreciate… BREATH… BREATH
Repeating this like a mantra will ingrain it in student minds to use this quick coherence breathing technique to maintain equilibrium of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.
What does that mean?
Fight or Flight vs Rest and Digest, this technique moves us into a neutral balance between these states.
When we are highly emotional, we are incoherent and not using our emotional intelligence to think and feel clearly. Use this breath count to stabilise the stress response and to regulate emotions with in minutes. It is important to focus on feelings of gratitude, appreciation and love when completing this exercise. Remind a child to think of something positive and comforting.
The breath count is:
Inhale for 2 secs, Exhale for 2 secs, Inhale for 4 secs, Exhale for 4 secs etc.
Once you have completed 1 cycle you can start again or work your way back down 8, 6, 4, 2.
2- Magical Movement
We often see a child who is upset, hunched up in a ball, head in his lap, arms folded, sobbing by himself. This is a great example of how we don’t want to be when we feel the yucky emotions.
This hunched position reduces oxygen flow dramatically because our airways are constricted and limiting how much air we are circulating. Our brain uses 20-25% of our total oxygen intake and during these times of stress we need as much of that going to the brain as possible so that we can efficiently navigate our emotions.
This goes for teachers’ as well, you may have heard that “sitting is the new smoking”. They aren’t lying, being hunched over a desk or device for hours on end is limiting the amount of oxygen uptake and if you weren’t aware… OXYGEN IS ESSENTIAL. We can go without food, water, sleep for days on end, but oxygen, you have a few minutes and your cactus without it.
The point I am making here is we need to open up airways and the respiratory system, get the blood pumping so that we increase oxygen levels and remove carbon dioxide.
Start each lesson with a 2 minute dance, teacher leading the way!
Or students' leading the teacher :)
You or your students’ shouldn’t be sitting for any longer than 25 mins. My suggestion is setting a timer for 25 mins or having a designated Movement Master in class for the week, when the clock strikes 25 mins everybody stands up and has a 2 minute boogie! Dancing on the spot, running on the spot, high fiving classmates, you decide, but this little movement activity is MAGIC for energy levels, emotion regulation and concentration.
3- Point and Talk
This is super powerful for students’ and teachers’, let’s start with the students’. When they are having a meta-moment aka melt down or emotional release it is imperative that we build their emotional intelligence in the process.
Ask them to point on their body where they are feeling it the most. Usually they will point to the chest, but regardless, have them concentrate their attention on that point and continue telling them to breathe into that space. Adding in some encouraging words like “Yes that’s it bring all that beautiful cool oxygen into that area. Moving that yucky feeling around and then taking it away when you breath out”
Next, it is important to ask the students if they can name what emotion/s is making them feel this way. It might be scared, worried, angry, lonely, etc. and this gives you more of an understanding of what may be underlying.
Now, for teachers’ it is also important for us that if we catch ourselves having a meta-moment aka melt down we can also point and talk. We don’t have to do this in a literal sense, but please take some time out to reflect on why you are feeling these feelings and scribble down some notes around the subject. Get it all out of your head and onto paper. You can then throw the paper away, burn it or keep it for reflecting later.
Nature is our most abundant resources. We should utilise it every day to inject positivity into our lives.
Being out in nature has been proven time and time again to shift the internal balance from negative to positive.
Get your students out in the sunshine, do an activity where they take their shoes off and walk on the grass… do it with them!
Take a walk in the park, stroll through the forest or splash along a coastline. Some fresh air, exercise, and gratitude for the beauty around you is guaranteed to clear your head and make you feel happier so new ideas flow. Let mother nature ground you and boost your positivity.
Check out the list of awesome activities to boost happiness here:
5- Sing like nobody's watching.
Do we need to explain this?
You do it in the shower, you do it in the car, you do it when nobody's watching.
We sing because it releases endorphins and hormones that make us feel good.
Why do we sing songs like lullabies to children? Because it makes them feel good.
When you or your class needs a brain break. Put on a singalong song and sing it out. This is a great way to break up a session (after 25 mins).
Here is my all time favourite:
These 5 tips are essential for dealing with emotions. Next time a student or teacher is having a down day, meta-moment or just needs an injection of positivity.
2- Point and talk
If the feeling doesn’t pass, I’ll eat my hat.
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Limited places remain.