Many people have difficulty dealing with emotions. As caring adults (4-H advisor, parent, guardian, etc.) we should talk about emotions with the children in our care. Emotions are those instinctive reactions to one’s given circumstances. In children you might see tantrums, crying, pouting, breaking things, or the silent treatment, among others. Sometimes as parents we want to jump in and fix things just like we did when our children were babies. To build our child’s resiliency skills, we need to step aside and be the supportive person “outside their box” as they are dealing with their emotions “inside their box”.
Triggers are those actions or events that when they happen, the individual responds with a strong immediate reaction. Triggers cause a sudden change in our emotions and our body becomes overwhelmed with reacting to the event. Sometimes referred to by parents as “pushing my buttons”, these words or actions bring about an instant reaction. Personally, one of my triggers is when someone scrapes a metal fork on a glass plate. My immediate reaction is to plug my ears. Self-awareness is an important skill for parents to develop in their children. It allows them to recognize emotions, triggers, and responses.
Self-Awareness: Circle of Identification
Here is a very simple activity that can be done with crayons and paper. You might also use cardstock or light-colored paper, especially if you encourage the child to take the paper home. This activity is most effective if you have a small group of children or a large group of children with several adults (i.e. 1 adult for each 3-4 children).
- Preprint a circle divided into 3 equal sections on the paper. Have extra copies depending on time available, but 2-3 copies per child is recommended.
- Give each child one paper and share the following instructions, one at a time, allowing all children to complete each step before moving on to the next step.
- Explain what an emotion is (angry, embarrassed, happy). In one of the sections of the circle, instruct the children to draw a picture of an emotion they have experienced.
- Define a trigger and give examples. In a different section, have them draw a picture demonstrating something that might trigger the emotion they selected in the first space.
- In the final space, have them draw a picture of how they deal with that emotion.
- You can use another sheet and redo the activity using another emotion.
- In summary, talk with them about the value in being able to identify their emotions, identify their triggers and evaluate their reaction to that emotion. This is key to really understanding the concept of self-awareness which allows youth and adults to handle both good and bad situations in life.
As caring adults, we can model feeling words by defining the exact emotion you are experiencing at that time. Avoid reactions like foul language, yelling or aggressive physical reactions, because you are modeling these as appropriate reactions to certain emotions. We can all agree that resiliency is a vital skill for youth and adults. Building the concept of self-awareness is a step to preparing youth (even at a young age) for future success.
Pincus, D. (2020, September 1). My Child is Out of Control: How to Teach Kids to Manage. Medium. https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-is-out-of-control-how-to-teach-kids-to-manage-emotions/
Sadowski, K. (2020, August 31). 8 Tip to Help Your Child Gain Control of His/Her Emotions. Medium. https://www.nspt4kids.com/parenting/8-tips-to-help-your-child-gain-control-of-hisher-emotions/