Click on the links to read the previous posts in this series:
So often we impose a solution to a situation due to the time pressures we’re under and the view of adults as the experts, and then we wonder why children can solve problems in similar situations. Dependence breeds hostility; by supporting children to create their own solutions, we develop their skills for the future. The final step of emotion coaching gives children a safe space in which they can learn from their mistakes.
Our natural instinct is to help others, we wouldn’t be teachers if it weren’t, but in this final step you’ve got to give them a little space to learn from their experience and this includes possibly choosing the wrong course of action – where it’s safe for them to do so.
To support the child to solve the problem we need to set some limits. Help the child to understand that although their feelings and wishes are acceptable, the behaviour of their reaction may not have been. It’s really important that the child understands that only their behaviour is unacceptable, not them as people.
We can then help the child to identify what they want to happen, working with them to clarify and understand their ideas for solving the issue under discussion. Give the child a chance to make suggestions before you share possible solutions. Some children can only deal with a few ideas at a time, others may be able to engage in brainstorming and have the ability to understand the theoretical implications of similar experiences they, or you, have encountered in previous problem solving attempts.
Collaboratively evaluate the possible solutions. Base your discussions within the ethos and expectations of your setting. Remember that the child’s beliefs, values and experiences may not match you own.
Help them to choose a solution and offer advice/ anecdotes from your own experience in dealing with similar problems. Talk about what worked, what didn’t work and why.
You then have to relinquish all control and allow the child to choose their course of action, as long as it is safe to do so. This can be really difficult, especially if you can spot holes in their plan, but it’s their plan and they will learn a valuable experience whatever their choice.
For more ways to teach emotional literacy, read my post ‘Emotion of the Week’.
Let me know how you get on!