The approach that I am sharing with you today began with my educational efforts with adults about how to guide children whose behaviors are challenging. It’s been the result of an engaging journey for me – - from thinking that I was giving child care givers some guidance tools that support the development of social and emotional competencies that are connected to children’s behaviors- to realizing that their own abilities to use these guidance and emotional literacy teaching tools and to model them were in need of strengtheningto finding the research base on which to create a valid and credible strengthening programto finding ways to help adults reflect on their own social emotional contributions to their relationships with their childrenTo recognizing that my own social and emotional competencies could stand some work as well.The workshop I’m presenting today is an abbreviated version of the results of this journey, which is now in process as a set of training units I am developing on the general topic of emotions in family life.This work is an outgrowth of my work teaching childcaregivers about understanding children’s challenging behavior. One of the main reasons behind challenging behavior is the children’s ability to exert self-control. In young children’s behaviors, we can easily see the results of being inexperienced in exerting self-control – which is really a very complex set of skills. Challenges to being able to control one’s behavior include one’s thoughts and feelings. In my work with providers about children’s self-control, I focused on the topic of children’s emotional control and emotional literacy. From this work I realized that adult emotional literacy could use a tune up. Found that little has been developed to address adult emotional self-regulation – we just assume most adults can do this appropriately. This led me to focus on the emotional aspects of parenting/caring for young children and to create educational sessions enhancing adults’ awareness and use of skills that I refer to as social emotional competencies. In creating these educational sessions, I integrate findings from several bodies of research: emotions; social emotional competence, health, and resilience; and brain development From my hands-on educational work with these various groups, I have learned how important it is to have conversations about emotions. Palpable feeling of relief and recognition of the important role that the feelings we experience play in our evaluations of our effectiveness and success as teachers and parents. Lately, I have joined with colleagues who work in the area of family caregiving. This information has also proven important for them.Whether I am talking with parents, pre-K teachers, child care providers, caregivers, or even my own family members, I’ve seen first-hand the positive changes that can happen when adult caregivers become more aware and respectful of their own emotional health. So I want to present to you, this morning, information about the research and practices I’ve found helpful in achieving changes in awareness, knowledge, and skills that support adults’ healthy emotional self-regulation.
Emotional labor involves the effort, planning, and control needed to express appropriate emotions during interpersonal transactions. Especially in the business world and workplace, employers recognize that emotional labor and emotion regulation are required now more than ever. In the teaching profession, for example, it is a concept that is becoming increasingly recognized because of the growing number of teachers leaving the profession -- nearly 50% of teachers entering the profession leave within the first five years -- and also because we know now that negative classroom climates have considerable implications for children’s learning.Studies of emotional labor have shown associations with job dissatisfaction, health symptoms and emotional exhaustion. Naturally, these are key components of burnout and related to teachers who drop out of the profession. Fortunately, we have learned that emotional labor is something we can learn to manage and manage well. We can learn to maintain our authentic positive emotions and manage our negative ones in healthy ways. When we can do this, we are better able to achieve our goals, maintain a sense of purpose and meaning, and construct for ourselves a higher quality social context. Cultivating daily positive emotions can increase our ability to rebound from adversity and stress, ward off depression, and help build resilience and growth.So this is the background. Emotional labor is real. Teachers (and those who work closely with other people) do a lot of it. How they do it affects their psychological and social well-being.
We know so much more about emotions, emotional experience, and the brain thanks to increasingly sophisticated methods allowing us to actually watch the brains of people as they experience various phenomena. We are in an age where we can now understand more about this incredibly powerful organ and how it works. With that understanding is coming ways to actually understand how we can make our brains healthier (like heart health, like bone health).Like our five senses and our thoughts, emotions communicate things to us about ourselves and our reactions to the world around us. An emotion is a message telling us to take notice of what is happening. Our brain and central nervous system are made so that emotional messages, like fear or surprise, are experienced in our bodies even before our five senses and our thoughts are able to make sense of what it is we feel fearful or surprised about. Ignoring, suppressing, or rejecting our emotions cuts us off from us a very important element in our ability to understand and decide how to navigate our way through our experiences. Emotions are a vital part of our ability to survive and thrive. They are an essential part of who we are.
Emotions serve many positive purposes. They draw our attention to events of interest or importance. Our emotions inform us about our needs and wants in a specific situation or an interaction with another person. They engage our thinking. They can help us gain a fuller understanding of what’s going on around us, inside us, and in our relationships. They can motivate us to take action. They can lead us to change our behaviors and responses to meet the needs of a situation. They can help us to connect with and feel close to other people. Let’s talk: Example using 2 versions of the story of the boyfriend/partner who breaks up.Question: Why are the feelings different in these stories?Translating the messages of our emotions gives us additional information to help us understand what we want and need and value in a situation or interaction. They help us make wise decisions. And we can develop the skill to tune into and use that information.Emotional self-regulation is an undervalued, complex set of learnable, teachable skills and competencies that are now becoming part of the conversation about managing the emotional labor required for effective teaching (parenting and caregiving) that sustains the social emotional health of teachers. And makes them the kind of models of emotion regulation that children desperately need.
Which of my feelings affect my behavior as a parent? When?How well am I able to stop myself from saying things that I will regret later?How well am I able to move myself out of a negative emotional state?Can you have an emotion without acting on it?Can you have a negative emotion and still feel content while experiencing it?Strategies HANDOUT (in booklet)Calming self-talkPositive reframing – i.e., looking for another way to see things, another way to frame events. Stepping back to see a bigger picture. Deep breathing, counting to ten
The strengths you showed when your hot buttons were pushed in your successful interaction description may have been your ability to recognize your feelings, calm yourself, and persevere with the current challenge. Any parent here ever find themselves feeling frustrated and thinking, “I have told her over and over and over again…”? That is a perfect example of the challenges parents face and must persevere to meet.Maybe your success when your buttons were pushed came from your ability to quickly connect to your goals for your child or for your relationship. We have immediate and short-term and long-term goals. Immediate: to stop your young child’s tantrum in the store Short-term: to prevent tantrums in public placesLong-term: for your child to learn to handle frustration/disappointment in constructive waysImmediate: to silence disrespectful comments made by your teenShort-term: to address teen’s decision-making about voicing their opinions that disrespect othersLong-term: for your teen to learn when and how to share ideas and opinions in ways that promote healthy engagement with others
How well am I able to put myself in the other’s situation and see things through her/his eyes?How well am I able to pay attention to the emotional states of others? (whose – children, adults, coworkers)How well am I able to empathize with how others are feeling?Am I aware of how others’ feelings may be affecting their behavior?Do I recognize that others may feel differently than I about the same situation and can I accept their feelings as legitimate?
Interpersonal relationships have actually been shown to shape our brains and affect cells throughout our bodies – thus affecting our learning, our work, and our physical and mental health (Goleman 2006, The New Science of Human Relationships).Coordinating our emotional selves with the emotional selves of others
Introductions of self and participants.Ask caregivers to write on their worksheet “The people to whom I am related who rely on me/need me to meet their needs.” “Other people whose needs I am responsible for meeting.”
Our physical health is part of our wealth.
Human beings are complex systems. Body, mind, heart, and spirit. We think of health as the absence of disease. We think of health as healthy diet and nutrition and exercise. These are important parts of health for sure.Our physical health is connected to our emotional health. If we neglect our emotional health, we may be threatening our physical health. Some of the habits we acquire – reaching for the chips, binging on sweets, nicotine and alcohol – developed because these foods and substances have a measurable affect on our mood. The thoughts and emotions we have about the everyday things that happen in life affect our moods.Caregiving – for an dependent adult or for growing children – requires a lot of work. Taking care of one’s own needs is a part of that work.
Emotional labor - A great deal of the work that caregivers do is emotional labor.There is an upside – in that we care for others, we get satisfaction from helping, from seeing them benefit from our attention and care.But there is a downside – in that when constantly attending and caring for others’ needs, we often ignore or suppress our own needs for attention and care. And the work that we do to manage our emotions, to keep ourselves in control of them so that we don’t damage the health and well-being of those whom we love, takes a toll on us. BurnoutResilience comes from being aware of our emotions. HOT BUTTONS ACTIVITYHow do our hot buttons affect our caregiving? Our emotions affect our caregiving. Being aware of them gives us more tools to care for them and to care for ourselves.
Learning how to read these messages is essential to our emotional health and well-being.Especially learning how to read our emotions before they become so strong that they are no longer in our control.Emotions reveal our caregiving concerns. Our values, expectations and goals for our loved ones and for ourselves.Possible Values Being right? Being powerful?Being in control? Looking competent? Feeling competent?Responding like a professional? Being compassionate? Being effective? Being helpful? Teaching? Showing empathy? Children are not responsible for our behaviors or for how we feel. They don’t control our emotions. Our own values and strengths control us. It is essential to keep in close contact with, to keep in mind, our values and concerns and expectations and goals and needs and wants. To be able to tell our loved ones what is at the heart of our feelings. We are not our feelings. I am not angry. I FEEL angry. This will change if I let it.
1. Enhancing CaregiverSocial Emotional HealthEMOTION EDUCATIONDr. Ellen Abell
2. How do our emotionsinfluence our behaviors?
3. Emotional Labor Parenting - teaching children - being a caregiver …is an emotional experience. Burnout Resilience
4. What are Emotions “Good For”? Emotions are a form of information. Emotional arousal isvisible in our brainsEmotions and the Brain
5. What are Emotions “Good For”? Emotions are messages to ourselves about our … values needs wants beliefs expectations goals
6. Self-awareness Self-management Social awareness Relationship awarenessCore Social Emotional Competencieswww.casel.orgGoleman (2010), Emotional Intelligence
7. Self-Awareness Competencies The ability to identify one’s feelings. Physiological arousal Emotion vocabulary
8. Self Awareness Competencies The ability to identify one’s values and strengths. The ability to maintain awell-grounded sense ofself-confidence.
9. Self-Management Competencies The ability to regulate one’s emotions. To label feelings accurately To know what one cando with a feeling
10. Self-Management Competencies The ability to express one’s emotions appropriately.
11. Self-Management Competencies The ability to control one’s impulses. To know what onewants to accomplishin a given situationTo act in accordancewith one’s goals
12. Self-Management Competencies The ability to persevere in addressing challenges. The ability to set goals andmonitor progress toward them.
13. Social Awareness Competencies The ability to take the perspective of others. The ability to empathizewith others. The ability to recognizeand appreciateindividual differencesand similarities.
14. The ability to establish and maintain healthy andrewarding relationships. The ability to prevent, manage, and resolveinterpersonal conflict. The ability to resistinappropriatesocial pressure.Relationship Management Competencies
15. Understanding and Protecting YourEmotional HealthDr. Ellen Abell, Extension Specialist & Associate Professor
16. Protect Your Health
17. Health is About More than Your Body
18. Caregiving is an Emotional ExperienceEmotionsare anaturalpart ofcaring about people.