Overview Thunderstorm of Feelings
Image a young child being awakened by a clap of thunder. As she gets up and out of bed another bolt strikes with its accompanying rumble of thunder. Excited, she runs to the window to see how close the storm is to her room. In this example, the event is a thunderstorm, the emotion is excited, and the behavior is to run to the window to explore the storm.
Simply put, How we feel directs and literally Drives how we act. When you stop and think about it, it makes sense doesn’t it? This classroom activity explores the emotions and behaviors we all experience. Using a thunderstorm, as a common event, this exercise will demonstrate how emotions drive behavior. Everyone has experienced weather and storms. Using a common event makes it easier for students to share their own experiences and accompanying feelings of their reactions to a storm.
Emotions Drive Behavior
The Connections Model is based on the principle that “For students to keep their behaviors in check when strong emotions arise, they need to be able to understand what they feel and understand how to manage those feelings. Only through emotional regulation can they then successfully manage their behavior.”
Learning Emotional Regulation is the key to keeping your students behavior in check. By Teaching Emotional Regulation and focusing on teaching life skills students learn how to manage their emotions so they are able to control their behavior. Focusing only on students’ behavior fails to address the root cause of most student issues and classroom disruptions.
Student Behavior Reality Check
For most students emotional regulation is a balancing act and for the most part it happens automatically. When students are out of balance, or the skills to manage emotions have yet to be learned or are underdeveloped, there can be difficulties. Recognizing that disruptive or unfocused behaviors interfere with not only the student’s learning but their peers ability to learn as well is critical to managing a classroom of learners.
Emotional Regulation Gets Students Ready2Learn
Sometimes the behaviors are big and negative. These type of outbursts call attention to the issue that the student’s regulation is out of balance. We focus on the behavior instead of what is driving the behavior. Admittedly, sometimes, the signs are hard to spot and are masked or appear as a student being inattentive, restless, or socially immature. However, underlying the unwanted or off-task behaviors is a similar root cause: unmanaged emotions.
Feelings Drive Actions
Therefore, to manage unwanted and disruptive behavior we need to manage the emotions behind the behaviors. We need to look for the why and what is at the root of the unwanted behavior. Can we do that? Yes, we can.
Teach Emotional Regulation
When we help our students to manage their emotions through identification, understanding and connection to events that set the emotions to begin with, we are teaching them to regulate their emotions and in turn their behavior. This is in contrast to only focusing on the behavior itself. This approach to behavior change is positive and puts the power of change with the students. Everyone can learn to understand emotions. Everyone can learn the steps to manage emotions that lead to challenging behaviors. It may take time, and it is possible for everyone. That is real and lasting behavior change.