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When the clock is ticking!


Some people have expressed concerns that Emotion Coaching might 'take too long' or could be 'too difficult to do in a normal day'.

Here is a reflective log that demonstrates how taking a moment to validate the feelings of a distressed child can actually help things move more quickly:

Bryn was riding a trike when the bell went for tidy up time. He shouted "Oooooh!", and hid behind a large tyre.

Naomi felt some irritation as she had a lesson to teach, and she also knew Bryn could refuse to move for some time when he was distressed.

Taking a moment to empathise, Naomi wondered if Bryn was sad that he hadn't had long on the trike, as he had only just got on it. She also thought he might be angry with her for ringing the bell and making play time stop.

Naomi crouched down behind the tyre a little way from Bryn. Naomi used mirroring with her posture to demonstrate that she was not aiming to confront Bryn.

She identified Bryn's feelings and said: "I can see that you are feeling sad and angry that you had to stop riding the bike. You had waited a long time for a go and now you feel cross and sad that you had to stop."

Then Naomi validated Bryn's feelings by saying: "I would feel sad to stop doing something that I like, especially if I had to wait a long time."

Knowing that the class had to move on with their day, Naomi did some gentle limit-setting but also proposed a solution to the problem: "We have to tidy up now. Would you like to have the first go on the bikes after lunch?"

Bryn looked surprised when Naomi crouched next to him. He listened and agreed when she labelled and validated his emotions.

Naomi said she could see Bryn's body relax a little as she talked to him.

Bryn said 'okay' to the solution that Naomi offered and then helped her to tidy up.

On reflection, Naomi noticed that Emotion Coaching was quicker than her using 'adult insistence' to bulldoze Bryn into compliance. She recognised the importance of seeing the situation from the child's perspective instead of getting caught up in her own needs.

Importantly, too, Naomi felt that for Bryn to feel 'seen' in the moment really supported him to regulate - and move on.

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