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Tears and Tantrums: July 2

4th of July Peacockers!

Hello Dear Peacock Community:

I hope you all had a fabulous fourth. So many activities happened, parades, and fireworks, pony rides and painted faces, an almost full beautiful moon and a glorious sunny day. So much to be thankful for… Welcome summer!

As I was sitting at the Peacock booth, alas, I did not get to witness the parade, but what I did get to do was watch a plethora of interesting people all celebrating, having family moments of one kind and another. One child (not from Peacock) was mesmerized by the maze toy we had on the children’s table. She was about two years old, and she could have stayed there forever, or so it seemed. Her family clearly wanted to move on and do “other things”, and this girl was so happy where she was, and had no desire to go anywhere else. Thus a tantrum ensued. It made me think of the topic of tears and tantrums and how this is part of our curriculum at Peacock. Every day I see our teachers expertly handling this huge aspect of infancy and early childhood, and I thought it might be interesting to talk about it a bit in the Newsletter this week.

There has been a huge misunderstanding about the meaning and purpose of tears and tantrums. During the Middle Ages in Europe, many people thought that babies and children who cried  or raged were possessed by a demon or a devil. The treatment was to have a priest exorcise the devil from the child.

Fortunately for all of us, we have come a long long way from this gross misunderstanding of children’s tears. We now see that crying and raging in young children should never be ignored and should receive a nurturing response, one that shows compassion and understanding. All of our research and observation of children show that crying  is a natural stress-release mechanism that allows children to heal from the effects of frightening or frustrating experiences that have occurred previously. In this way, children use tears and tantrums to resolve some kind of trauma and to release some kind of tension that has gone on in their physical and/or emotional world. Through my many years of watching and of dealing with children’s tears, I have observed that in addition to helping children resolve trauma and release stress, an acceptance of  crying and raging can play a crucial role in preventing discipline problems and reducing some hyperactive behavior as well as harmful behavior towards others. Allowing a child to cry also can contribute to better physical and emotional health, attention span, and an ability to learn.  When a child cries, I feel the main component of helping this child comes from the adults understanding of why this child is crying. When a child feels understood and cared for, then often the tears go away. Every day I observe all the teachers with a child or many children who have a moment of tears in their day. This is a normal part of life in the world of young children. In the toddler room, for example, the tears are often centered around “ownership” of a toy. Developmentally, this is what happens when a child is at the stage when their world is centered around themselves.

The toddler teachers are gentle compassionate souls who acknowledge this “me-ness”, and the frustration that ensues when this “me-ness” is thwarted. Yet, the great toddler teacher doesn’t stop there. She/he encourages the child to see beyond this “me-ness” to the greater world, the one where kindness and sharing are a major element in our growing understanding of these toddler selves. Because of this compassion, understanding and caring that is infused with messages that we are all in this together, the toddler classroom at Peacock is a prime example of how far we all have come from the philosophy of the Middle Ages.

As we all can see, all children experience some level of stress in their lives, no matter how loving we as adults all are. I’m sure all of us have tried to indulge our child’s desires in order to prevent a crying or a tantrum. And I know that we as adults have seen that this doesn’t work very well. We at Peacock see all the time that there are times when a child is crying and we see that this is what they just have to do. It’s part of their work to release, to be understood, and then to gradually gain an awareness as to how to move through this particular event, this conflict that has often arisen in their social-emotional of the world.

We all know that young children cry more and have greater challenges in general when they are tired, hungry, or sick, which is why at Peacock children eat every few hours, have regular nap/rest times, and are encouraged to stay home when they are sick.

In our classrooms, when tears that come up, each child is handled expertly and with care and understanding. At times, tears become part of the curriculum as the teachers talk to the children about how to treat our friends when they are upset, about how to get along and understand and care for each other.

In our Toddler Room this week, the children have been welcoming two new children. Greeting others and welcoming new friends have been important curriculum areas that the toddlers have been working on. Sharing our toys and being gentle with children who are new are important aspects of a healthy social emotional development. Our two new toddlers have come into the room with enthusiasm, kindness and a sweet caring nature that is lovely to observe. The toddlers have also been enjoying the nice weather and they have been going outdoors and playing in the large field next to Peacock. In addition, they saw pictures that Petra took of the fireworks and they made their own “boom boom boom” sounds to accompany them.

In our Infant Room Jan has been watching a lovely engagement between the babies as they are truly enjoying each others company, finding ways to interact with each other in meaningful ways. In any infant room, there is of course a great deal of crying, as this is the main way that babies tell us that something is just not right. Attunement is the key word that I notice with Jan and Aga, and Tyler and Amber, the infant teachers and assistants who are carefully aware of what each infant needs, and how to help them maintain a level of homeostasis in their daily lives.  Babies need to be held often and absorb the smells and the emotional energy of the adult who is caring for them. Like I wrote in a previous newsletter, the bonding between the infant and the caretaker is pivotal in this attunement and in the caring for the infant in all her/his needs.

In our Green Room we warmly welcome Kelley, who has been with us all week while Heather is on vacation. She has brought  to Peacock and expertise in education of children as well as a warmth, attuned to each child’s needs. She and Betsy have worked well together as they have created curriculum projects centered around the fourth of July. One day the room was filled with glitter, as the children were happily creating their own version of firecrackers and fireworks. With a story dictation that focused on fireworks, the children equated fireworks with monsters in the sky, connecting this experience with a fascination and also a somewhat frightening part of their world. The children in the Green Room have been very enthralled with a new geometric manipulative that was brought in, that has allowed them to make three dimensional objects with these magnetized shapes. In addition, the children have enjoyed a color matching game, where they not only challenged themselves with matching colors and objects, but also in this game they had to work together cooperatively to share the appropriate colors with the objects. Kelley and Betsy have been working with the children on free-hand drawing, a difficult skill, but one which saw amazing results amongst the children. And finally, the lovely weather brought the children outside for easel painting “en plein air.”

In the Blue Room, the children have also been immersed in fireworks art, exploring with paint and glitter to make magical creations that were their version of fireworks. They also did a skit for the teachers in which they were the firecrackers, making the sizzling sounds that accompany the boom and the crack that excited them. Also this week, the green room children have been painting with all different kinds of mediums, cookie cutters and sponges, fingers and paintbrushes. They painted their own version of the American flag. They have been exploring the concepts  of sinking and floating , and  they have been combining this with predictions and graphing of their results. They have been working on and mastering 30 piece puzzles. Earlier in the week, they released the butterflies that had matured from caterpillars, thus witnessing the cycle of transformation. As the butterflies happily flew into the sky, one of the children called out,” Have a good life, and make your own beautiful babies.”…

 

 

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