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Supporting Children's Emotional Wellbeing


Self-regulation is a key part of children’s development; quite simply self-regulation is developing children’s ability to regulate their emotions, thoughts and behaviours to resolve any upsets, restore the balance and allow children to act in a positive way to continue towards their chosen goal.

Developing self-regulation is not something that children can do by themselves, self-regulation grows from co-regulation, where adults and children work together to find ways to resolve upsets and manage any negative feelings and behaviours.

Establishing Positive and Supportive Relationships

Supporting children to develop the necessary skills for self-regulation, is underpinned by establishing warm, positive and safe relationships with staff in the setting.

It is crucial that children know that they are safe and that there is someone that they can depend on and trust. Children need to feel like they belong, that they are listened to and are able to have a voice.

Setting Clear Boundaries and Expectations

Children feel safe and secure when they know and follow the rules and expectations.  We support children to follow our five golden rules

  • We are kind we have kind words
  • We are gentle we use kind hand
  • We practice good sitting and good listening
  • We try to follow instructions the first time we are asked.
  • We never run in the preschool classroom.

We regularly remind children of the behavioural expectation and support children by guiding and modelling appropriate behaviours during our daily interactions.

Teaching the Language of Feelings

When children can express their feelings with words, they are less likely to show them through their actions. Negative behaviour is the expression of negative feelings and emotions.

Supporting children to understand, identify, and describe their feelings and the feelings of others is woven into the curriculum, through our interactions, our core books, and our feelings check in, which all support children to identify and explore their different feelings. 

The steps children make towards managing and regulating their feelings and emotions are;

1, Use words to name feelings they see in books or images such as ‘Happy’, ‘Sad’ or ‘Angry’

2, Start to identify and name their own feelings in different situations.

3, Talk about their feelings in more detail “I am feeling sad . . . . because I have lost my picture”

4, Adults then start to support children to manage their feelings by modelling strategies.

““I can see that you are sad because you have lost your picture . . . let’s take sit quietly and take some deep breaths while we calm down”

5, Once children are familiar with these strategies, they will be more able to use them with less support and remember them when an adult is not there.

By the time children leave us we hope that they are beginning to develop the necessary skills to regulate their own behaviour and have developed some strategies to manage their feelings.

When Children Need Help to Manage their Emotions

There are times when children will need help in the moment to manage strong negative feelings and emotions, and when this happens, we use Time in and not Time out.

What does ‘Time In’ this look like? 

Essentially, we stay with the child and support them through the negative feeling and behaviour.

If a child doesn’t want to be touched or comforted, then we quietly stay close so they can come for comfort when they are ready. During Time In staff will:

  • Stay calm and take charge
  • Let children know that you understand and use a calm voice
  • Help children to name their feelings, use feelings fan or other images
  • Help them to understand what happened and remind them of the behaviour that is expected.
  • Help child put things right if possible
  • Help child learn what they can do next time
Calm Down Corner

Children are aware of the space they can go to if they need to calm down, and staff can use the calm down area to support children when necessary. We also use our calm down kits, which includes things like bubbles to support children to take deep breaths, sand timers, sensory bottles, and sensory toys for children to hold and squeeze for comfort and release.