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Validate Feelings


Social-Emotional Learning All Ages Strategy


Anxiety Flexible Thinking Self-regulation Organization Social Awareness

Validate Feelings

If your student is very emotional or over-reactive

Teach It!

  1. Objective: Feelings of anxiety, anger, and frustration are very real to children even if they may seem exaggerated or unreasonable to an adult. The first step in helping is to listen and validate children's feelings.
  2. Teacher Takeaways: a) Always start by listening and recognizing the student's feelings. Even if you do not agree, it is important to acknowledge their perspective. b) Help them understand that even if their feelings are fully justified, they first need to cope with their strong emotions. When you are very upset you cannot think clearly. c) Coping can include breathing or meditation exercises or breaking the big worry into small pieces. d) Once emotions are in control and they are able to listen, identify where you agree with them. With compassion, point out other perspectives or details the child may have missed. Just as you fully listened to their side, it is important that they see other sides.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Validating and understanding a child's feelings is always the first step in gaining their trust and confidence and effectively helping them problem solve through difficult situations. A significant body of research demonstrates the importance of adults understanding students' environmental and social context and affirming their culture, background, and experiences to enable student success. This edutopia article provides additional, practical approaches on how to speak with students from experienced ELA teacher and author Robert Ward.