Have you ever felt like you’ve wanted to throw your hands in the air, stamp your feet or just scream out loud, when you’re working with children? Working with children in early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings can be a demanding and challenging role.
Are you ready to take back the power of your mind and help manage intense feelings?
It’s impossible to completely remove stress from your day – particularly in the unpredictable world of ECEC. It is possible, however, to minimise the impact of stressors on your own wellbeing. Creating a low stress environment hinges on five preliminary concepts:
The role of the environment
Being creative in the way in which the environment is planned can be a positive step into integrating educator and child wellbeing. Environments which create a sense of calm and controlled emotions support not only educators, but also children.
When educators are able to use tools in their environment – such as a designated calm space, a yoga mat, or moving to outside – they are not only receiving the benefit of becoming calm, they are also modelling to the children how to regulate their emotions.
Thinking about how we can incorporate these pockets of wellbeing into our rooms, with mindfulness areas and yoga corners, is a perfect way to access tools anytime you or the children need it. Have you ever put music on to lift your spirits or create a sense of calm? This is an example of making an environmental change to impact on wellbeing.
Imagine redirecting a child who is experiencing heightened emotion to the yoga mat and joining in alongside them! Potentially a much better outcome than some common techniques to “manage behaviour” By working on our feelings side by side, we develop a deeper connection to one another, and this is especially true for children working alongside a trusted educator.
As a next step, picture the environment where you typically work with children. What is one small change you can make in that environment to support wellbeing for children and yourself?
Keeping your cool when times are scary, frustrating, sad or emotional is an embedded practice. The process of becoming more mindful and embedding wellbeing into the program, is one which can happen through collaboration with your team, looking at aesthetics of your environment (link this to my previous article), setting up wellbeing areas and using techniques, such as intentional breathing; taking in a long deep breath and exhaling out through the mouth, three times.
Creating stress free environments requires a holistic approach, with calm and centred educators at the core. To that end, putting ourselves first as educators isn’t selfish, it is quite the opposite! We can only truly care for children if we are in the right frame of mind ourselves.
We owe it to the children and their families, to be the best we can be, and that includes taking responsibility for managing our own stress and learning to keep our cool.
If you would like to know more ways to keep your cool, visit Nic’s free Facebook Group The Peace Warriors for more ideas and support.