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Emotionally Healthy Kids
October 8, 2015 | Volume 11 | Issue 3
Table of Contents
Eight Student-Friendly Strategies to Develop Emotional Skills
Todd J. Feltman
Just like graphic organizers, anchor charts, and other cues help students navigate and work independently with the concepts we teach, brief, kid-friendly strategies for handling emotional situations can help our students develop healthy social and personal habits. In my book The Elementary and Middle School Student-Friendly Handbook to Navigating Success, I detail eight strategies students can use to develop their emotional skills. Before introducing these strategies, you may want to lead a general discussion with your students centered on these questions:
To support student curiosity, each strategy is followed by an explanation of the purpose of the strategy. There are also a few helpful reminders to guide students, but students may want to develop their own cues.
Strategy #1: If you are having a bad day, inform your teacher(s) at the beginning of the class.
Why: Your teacher will be aware of your mood and can help you have a better day.
Helpful Reminder: You can also let the lunchtime staff know. Despite the type of day you are having, you are still expected to follow the classroom rules. If you're in a bad mood, you should not disrespect your teacher or other students.
Strategy #2: Whenever you have a problem at school, speak to your teacher first before you discuss it with your parent(s).
Why: Speaking to your teacher right away provides you both with an opportunity to solve the problem so that it won't continue to bother you.
Strategy #3: Avoid teasing and laughing at other students.
Why: Teasing and laughing are disrespectful and hurtful, make others feel angry and embarrassed, and create conflict.
Strategy #4: If other students look different from you—whether they are short, tall, skinny, overweight, weak, or of a different skin color—do not make fun of them.
Why: Teasing others about their physical appearance is unfriendly. Think about how you would feel if the teasing were happening to you.
Strategy #5: If you are about to get into a physical fight with another student, you can say something such as this: "Let's discuss this. I don't want to get in trouble or injured, and I don't think you do either."
Why: You are standing up for yourself by speaking. Settling conflicts by speaking does not make you look weak. Resolving an argument or disagreement using words is the most responsible and peaceful approach. You don't want to physically harm yourself or another student.
Strategy #6: Avoid leaving the classroom without permission.
Why: Your teacher is responsible for your safety. If you walk out of the classroom without telling your teacher, you are creating unnecessary stress and damaging your trustworthiness—and you could get in trouble.
Helpful Reminder: If you feel frustrated or angry and need a quick walk or water break, raise your hand to request it.
Strategy #7: During outdoor recess, make sure to run around, be active, and have fun.
Why: Recess is a break for you to recharge your brain and body. Physical exercise helps you relieve stress and can energize you for the rest of the school day.
Strategy #8: Whenever you are asked to provide feedback on other students' work, make sure to always begin with a specific compliment. You should always offer suggestions in a friendly tone of voice and never be rude or sarcastic.
Why: It is important for other students to first hear what they did well in order to build their self-confidence. Then, they are better able to listen to a suggestion and implement it.
You are welcome to share these eight strategies in your school. I am confident that these practical tips will help your students become more emotionally healthy, happy, and successful.
Todd J. Feltman has served in New York City public and independent schools for the last 17 years as a classroom teacher, new teacher mentor, journalism/writing teacher, and a citywide elementary and middle school literacy achievement coach. He holds a doctorate in urban education from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York and three master's degrees in childhood education, literacy education, and school supervision/administration.
ASCD Express, Vol. 11, No. 3. Copyright 2015 by ASCD. All rights reserved. Visit www.ascd.org/ascdexpress.
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