The Feeling Child

Loris Malaguzzi wrote ‘The Hundred Languages of Children’ in recognition of the multitude of ways in which they can express their ides, thoughts, feelings or frustrations.

Children are complex thinkers and they feel the world in a genuine way. Happiness, fear, anxiety, anger and frustration are real emotions. When children are not following teacher directions or are ‘unsettled’ is it because they are confused, sad, angry, frustrated or scared in how they are interpreting their world. These emotions don’t always mean that their behaviour is acceptable, however in thinking about what your child may be feeling it can help in knowing how you can respond with unsettled or inappropriate behaviour. It is paramount to ‘know’ every child in your care.

Remember it is the emotion behind the behaviour that needs attention. To understand the emotion takes time where we need to listen, to feel and to see.

All children ‘have feelings’ and there will be times when a child displays inappropriate behaviour. This is normal and an important point for learning about people and themselves.

So what can you do:

  • Accept the child
  • Know the child
  • Listen to the child
  • Work with parents as partners and set boundaries for home and school
  • Be consistent with boundaries
  • Ensure you spend quiet one on one time with the child (reading a book together daily)

When a child is ‘unsettled’ stay calm, listen to what the child is saying and watch what the child is doing.

If the child’s behaviour is unacceptable calmly tell him/her it is unacceptable and that you understand he/she is feeling sad, angry, frustrated, tired or scared. Then calmly tell the child that you are going to give him/her time and space to think about their behaviour. This may be as simple as sitting on a chair or removing from the group. When the child is ready to join the group he/she may do so respectfully. Remember the child needs to be calm when this happens.