Feelings & Wellbeing at School: Understanding how Emotions affect Behaviours 2021

How do you teach students to understand how emotions & feelings affect behaviours, you ask? Try out some of Guide to Life’s activities and tips in your classroom.

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Understanding how Feelings affect Behaviours

As children feel safe and learn to inhibit disruptive emotional impulses, they exhibit greater self-confidence, better behaviour and enhanced memory. They enjoy the learning process, thus readily engage and fully immerse themselves in gaining new knowledge and skills. 

Pupils deal with many of the same feeling’s adults do: 

  • Pupils experience complex feelings and emotions just like adults. They can get frustrated, excited nervous, sad, jealous, frightened, worried, angry and embarrassed. However, young pupils usually don’t have the vocabulary to talk about how they are feeling. Instead, they communicate their feelings in other ways. 
  • Pupils can express their feelings through facial expressions, body language, behaviour and play. Sometimes pupils may act out their feelings in physical, inappropriate or problematic ways. 
  • From the moment a child is born, they start learning emotional skills that they need to identify, express and manage their feelings. They learn how to do this through their social interactions and relationships with important people in their lives such as parents, grandparents and carers.  
  • Being a teacher means you can help children in their next phase of understanding their feelings and behaviours. Pupils need to be shown how to manage their feelings in positive and constructive ways. 

The aim of teaching pupils about physical and mental wellbeing is to give them the information that they need to make good decisions about their own health and wellbeing. It should enable pupils to recognise what is “normal” and what is an issue in themselves and others and when issues do arise pupils know how to seek support as early as possible from appropriate sources.   

Physical and Mental Health are interlinked, and it is important that pupils understand that good physical health contributes to good mental wellbeing, and vice versa. 

Effective teaching should aim to reduce the stigma attached to health issues, in particular, those to do with mental wellbeing. Schools should engender an atmosphere that encourages openness. This will mean that pupils feel they can check their understanding and seek any necessary help and advice as they gain knowledge about how to promote good health and wellbeing. 

Reasons Why Recognising Emotions is Important

  • Understanding the reason behind your emotions 
    • As human, we have emotions, so we can make connections with the people around us and figure out what makes us feel good and what doesn’t.  
    • Our emotions are like our internal compass, helping us to figure out how a situation makes us feel. This then helps us make decisions about whether we want to be in that situation and allows us to figure out what we do and don’t want in life.  
    • We need to be able to recognise when we have an emotion, know what it is and know what it is trying to tell us. For example, if a pupil is spending time with a group of people who make them feel unhappy about themselves, anxious and under pressure- it is important that they can recognise this and realise that their feelings are telling them that this isn’t the right situation for them to be in. 
    • If a pupil is able to listen to their feelings and respond to them, they are going to be more likely to gravitate toward people who make them feel good about themselves. 
    • A pupil who does not have awareness may not even realise that their chosen friendship groups are having a negative impact on their wellbeing and behaviour.  
  • Help feel more in Control 
    • Our emotions can greatly affect moods and behaviours. If your pupils are feeling angry, anxious or worried a lot it can have an impact on friendships, family relationships, schoolwork and their overall feelings of happiness.  
    • Pupils who have a lot of negative feelings can also make them feel like not want to take part in hobbies or activities outside of school. It is important that we help pupils recognise when they are feeling unhappy so that they can figure out why and try to find a solution to make themselves feel better. 
    • Having the skills to reflect on feelings and realise they are in control of how they feel will have a massive impact on pupil’s purposefulness and ownership of their life.  
  • Negative Emotions can lead to Negative Thoughts 
    • If pupils struggle to recognise when they are unhappy, this can lead to them having unhappy thoughts.  
    • It is really important that as a teacher, we help pupils realise that they are in charge of their own thoughts. If they are spending a lot of time thinking things like “I am not good enough” or “No one likes me” then this is going to affect their mindset and the way in which they see situations they find themselves in. 
    • The message pupils need to hear is that…if they believe they can do things- then they can! All they have to do is believe it. The first-step to positive mental health and wellbeing is noticing when we are feeling unhappy and changing negative thoughts.  
  • Asking for Help 
    • Sometimes when pupils are feeling down, they need help from those around them- parents/carers, teachers or a friend.  
    • Pupils being able to recognise when they need help with their emotions is important, and often pupils cannot figure it out on their own. They need guidance and support with their emotions to help them understand how to calm down. 
    • Often pupils just need a helping hand and someone they trust when they feel overwhelmed with their feelings. Or someone to listen to them without judgement, where focus is on their feelings and not the situation. Pupils need to know that they can share their big feelings with a safe adult who will guide them through those feelings.  
    • Learning to communicate with people around them and identifying what they need in order to help them is a way of pupils developing healthy ways to regulate their emotions.  
  • Being a Better Friend 
    • Once pupils are skilled at recognising their own emotions, managing them and communicating them to others, pupils can start to help others do the same.  
    • Pupils who get really good at understanding people’s feelings will be able to tell when the people around them are not feeling very happy and be able to respond appropriately and help them. 
    • They will be able to help to support their siblings, friends and people around them as they will grow up will help them for better relationships 

Tips to Help Your Pupils manage their Emotions.

Meditate: A pupil’s life is so busy all the time, they don’t get much time to relax, especially with the addition of gaming, technology and social media. 

Meditation is a brilliant way to calm the mind down, it helps pupils feel more connected to themselves and helps them feel at peace. Practising meditation can make a big difference in how they handle emotions when they feel overwhelmed. It is also, a brilliant way to help pupils relax. Visual relaxations are great because they involve a pupil telling a story about a relaxing place and, as they, listen they imagine it in their heads. 

  • Mindful Breathing: Help your pupils calm down when their feelings are taking over and encourage them to take 10 deep breaths in. It sounds simple but it works! Educate your class by demonstrating breathing in and out slowly. Explain that every time that they breathe in, you want them to imagine they are breathing in positivity. When they breathe out, tell your class that they need to imagine they are letting go of all the negative feelings and thoughts.  
  • BONUS- You can do this exercise at the start or end of the day, do this five times nice and slow and it will remind them to feel better.  
  • Changing Negative Thoughts:  
  • Don’t let those negative thoughts take over. Pupils need to believe that they are amazing and they can be anyone they want to be in life. (Because they absolutely can!) They will do wonderful things, if only they believe it. Help them to learn to manage their negative thoughts, if only they believe them. 
  • Help them to learn to manage their negative thoughts, if they notice their thinking negative thoughts, encourage them to try replacing them with a positive one. So instead, of thinking “I am shy” think “I can do this and what I have to say is worth hearing” or if they think “I can’t do this” change that to “I can do anything I put my mind to”. 
  • Positive Affirmations 
  • A positive affirmation is a phrase a pupil can say to themselves that makes them feel good and reminds them that they can do anything and be anyone they want to be. Encourage your pupils to say affirmations to themselves in the morning, use them as part of classroom displays or have them in their workbooks and planners. Saying things like “I am strong”, “I am in charge of my future”, “I deserve a wonderful life”, “I am healthy and happy” and “I am a good person and people like me” will help change mindsets. The more your pupils say these affirmations to themselves, the more they will begin to believe them.  
  • Mindful Colouring 
  • Colouring is not just for little children! Even adults’ colour to relieve stress. Mindful colouring is where you draw a lot of different squiggles and patterns on a page and then spend time colouring them in. Encourage your pupils to do this when they feel overwhelmed, or even as part of their self-care wellbeing strategies within each week- even schedule it into their classroom time.  
  • Let them take their time, listen to relaxing music whilst they do this, and just let them have some peaceful time. Focusing on colouring brings down your rate, calms your breathing and focuses the mind. So, teaching this to your pupils is a great technique that will give them a tool they can use when they need to take control of their feelings.  

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