Positive Discipline in the Classroom: Exploring Emotions

This post is part of a series on the skills children learn in a Positive Discipline classroom, and how parents can support their children in using these skills outside of school. For more background on this series, read Positive Discipline in The Classroom: Bringing The Skills Home.

If you are in the Pacific Northwest, check out Sound Discipline to learn more about bringing Positive Discipline to your school or community.

What Children Learn:

A key part of expressing feelings is being able to name them. In this picture, we can see the feeling words children brainstormed to increase their emotional vocabulary. They started with the four basic feeling categories: Mad, Sad, Glad & Scared. From there, they brainstormed what more specific feelings fit in to each of those boxes. This chart provides a visible tool to help student identify feelings they want to express in the classroom.

Why It’s Important:

Emotional awareness is one of the most critical skills for functioning in today’s world. When we understand our own emotions, we can actively decide what to do with them. When we are unaware of our feelings, it is easy to react in anger instead of respond calmly.

Emotions are complex too, as we often experience more than one feeling at a time. When kids are having a hard time figuring out what it is they are feeling, they can start with thinking about the four main ones and use the chart to help them identify what they are feeling.

How Parents Can Support Use At Home:

You can help your child at home by sharing your own feelings. Tell them about something that happened during your day and how you felt about it. When you notice your child having a feeling, ask them if they can name it for you. Our bodies often give us clues as to how we are feeling as well. You can ask what your child notices in their body to help them identify the emotion they are experiencing. You can also share where you feel emotions in your own body.

There are many opportunities to incorporate identifying emotions in to daily life. You can ask what they think a character in a book, someone at the park, or a character on television might be feeling. Follow up by asking what clues they used to help them guess what the person is feeling. Was it their body language or what they the character said? This kind of practice will increase their ability to notice what others are feeling during interactions throughout their day.