Social-Emotional Learning at the Holidays 2

Social-Emotional Learning at the Holidays

9 December 2021 • Words by Allison Henry 3 mins

Teaching Kids Self-Awareness and Emotion Management at the Holidays

The holiday season is a joyous, celebratory time that can be an emotional journey with peaks and valleys. The emotions of the holiday season are varied and intensified. We can take this opportunity to help children learn to identify their emotions and manage them using everyday strategies. 

American psychologist Dr. Robert Plutchik proposed that there are 8 basic emotions that influence our behaviors every day. The emotion color wheel that he created is a great visual for how the emotions intensify and interact with each other. 

Click here to read more about this theory and read about the color wheel here.

How to teach kids self-awareness at the holidays

The first step in developing self-awareness is to name emotions.

This can happen through listening to stories, reading books, watching children’s programming, playing games, and child-caregiver interactions. Name the emotions of characters and people as you see them and talk about why they may be feeling that way. Ask children if they have ever felt that feeling and ask them to explain the situation. Typically young children learn happy, sad and mad as the first emotions. These are paired with facial expressions and linked to specific contexts from their lives. As children get older, they learn more complex emotions, like anticipation, surprise, and disgust. They also learn to acknowledge the emotions of others through observation and conversation.

The second step is to learn to identify their emotions as they are happening in real-time.

This includes noticing the way your body feels, the way you are talking, what language you are using, and how you are interacting with others. Caregivers can use their language to notice the child’s emotional state by naming some observable behaviors. For example, “I notice that you are feeling angry by looking at how your hands are now fists, you are stomping your feet, and your voice is yelling.” This helps them to note that their emotions directly impact their behavior. The goal of noticing is not to solve any problems or make the emotion go away. Children need to feel their feelings and learn to manage them if they are negatively impacting their relationships. 

The third step is to learn strategies to manage their emotions in various contexts.

The key question that we need to ask ourselves is: When is the best time to learn these strategies? It’s certainly not when children are feeling big feelings. Teach these strategies when kids are regulated and available for learning. Take time to identify, model, and practice different strategies, such as breathing, body scanning, visualization, and listening to music. These are all strategies that can help to regulate the body and brain and can be done in most settings with very few resources needed. These strategies can also be used for the full range of emotions, ranging from angry to over-excited. 

How Moshi can Help

Here are a few Moshi tracks, ranging from 5 minutes to 20 minutes, that directly relate to self-awareness and emotion management and are perfect for all ages!

Emotion activity for the holidays: 

Help children practice naming emotions by using this String of Lights activity. 

Based on the wheel of emotions, colors can help children make associations and remember the names of emotions. As kids are coloring, give examples of when they may feel this way and ask for examples of when they felt this way. 

Allison Henry