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Recognising and naming emotions is child's play

Goodstart centres

The children at Goodstart Browns Plains- Redgum Drive are learning to recognise and name their emotions through a range of games, resources, books and take home activity bags; and parents and educators are noticing a big boost in their social and emotional development. 

By listening to parents’ concerns and worries about the future, centre educators knew they had to develop a new program to focus on building children’s resilience and social and emotional development. 

“After sitting with our families, it became clear that the majority were worried that their children don’t have resilience or an understanding of how to name and cope with their feelings, and parents were concerned that if they didn’t develop these skills they could be at risk of being bullied as they became older,” said assistant director Paige Fien. 

“By working so closely with our families we have been able to form some amazing relationships with our parents and they have become such a massive and integral part of our centre,” she said. 

Goodstart Browns Plains- Redgum Drive has committed to implementing a range of initiatives designed to help make their families’ lives easier.

Some of the initiatives they have developed include: 
  • A take home resource library which includes activities to help children recognise and name their emotions. These include emotion cards, fidget resources and robots. 
  • A take home library of story books about emotions- these include books that focus on a range of emotions, helping children to recognise how they feel.
  • Tailored take-home bags which include activities and resources to help children regulate big emotions.
  • Charts and activities within the centre to help children calm down if they are feeling frustrated. 
  • Yoga resources for both within the classroom and for families to do at home. 

“The feedback from our children and parents has been fantastic. The children love having a range of resources at their disposal and we have noticed a big difference in a lot of the children,” Paige said.

“For example we have one boy within the service who would often have big emotional meltdowns and didn’t know when he was starting to feel frustrated or angry,” she said.

“After using our take-home bags and other resources within the centre he is now better able to recognise his emotions and can often take himself off to calm down before he gets too frustrated.”

The centre has also embedded a range of ongoing initiatives like yoga and storytelling that are aimed at guiding the children’s emotional regulation.

Goodstart Early Learning’s national manager professional practice Greg Antcliff said dealing with challenging behaviours was one of the biggest tasks early childhood educators and parents faced today. 

“If we want anyone to behave in a different way, we have to give them a new behaviour model,” Mr Antcliff said.

He said when parents and educators begin to talk about and name emotions, children could develop an increased ability to regulate their emotions, enjoy better friendships by enhancing their social skills, and enjoy a closer bond to their parent or educator.

“If educators and parents talk about each person's inner world of thoughts, feelings and perceptions, children can begin to understand that someone else might feel or think differently to term,” Mr Antcliff said.

“If a child can recognise their own feelings, they can begin to empathise with other people's feelings.”

Labelling emotions correctly can also help give the child a language to communicate how they were feeling, rather than acting out.
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