By Elizabeth Sautter, M.A., CCC-SLP
During the recent wildfires, kids in the Bay Area spent many school hours indoors due to the smoky conditions. Being cooped up in the classroom for more than a day or two often leads to feelings of boredom, frustration, and even anxiety or anger.
When children face a situation in which they’re stuck indoors, teachers, therapists, and parents can help. The smoke was an unusual scenario, but kids might also be forced to stay indoors for other reasons, including other bad weather or an injury or illness. Whatever the cause, it’s helpful to give students extra support as needed and to offer activities that help them express and cope with their emotions. Here are some suggestions to use in the classroom, during therapy sessions, or also at home:
- Take time to talk about what is going on with your students/children. Greet them, check-in, and have classroom or family meetings. Some kids may need one-to-one support.
- As you’re talking, make sure to acknowledge the child’s feelings and try to connect. Let them know you are there for them.
- Help kids settle down with breathing activities that are easy to do: http://makesociallearningstick.com/blog/-breathe-in-breathe-out-and-something-more
- Read books about emotions as a way to start the conversation about feelings and how to express them. Here are some options: http://makesociallearningstick.com/book-recommendations.html
- Try these other activities for exploring emotions: https://www.apperson.com/teach-talk/10-activities-to-help-students-explore-emotions
Developing the ability to understand and express emotions gives kids a powerful tool that’s useful in many situations throughout life. The activities above provide a good start for helping children cope with a variety of difficult or painful experiences.