What Emotion-Based Curriculums Miss and How to Fix Them

Quick: Take out a piece of paper or open a new note on your phone. Write down the first five emotions that come to your mind.

Then evaluate this list:

  • How many of those emotions were positive emotions?
  • How many of those emotions were negative or emotions?

My guess is that you have more negative emotions than positive ones. Is that correct?

It’s a tendency that most people have.

So, when emotions are taught in schools this proclivity follows. Below are a few ways that it creeps into emotion-based curriculum.

  • An intense focus is given to negative emotions:

The intent is to enable small beings to recognize, label, and talk about their feelings. The emotions conversation more often than not focuses on negative emotions and the challenges with those feelings. This teaches small beings that it is more important to speak about negative emotions.

In many of the emotion-focused curriculum there are two or three times more negative emotion words than positive. Make sure to teach your small being just as many positive emotion words as negative emotion words.

  • Teaching moments become limited to a crisis:

Rarely will you stop a small being who is walking down the street with a big smile and ask her, “What happened?” If the same small being was crying you would immediately ask this question. When kids are in bad moods we want to talk about why they feel that way and will probably suggest that they change it. If small beings don’t have familiarity with positive feelings, then it makes it harder to return to this state when they are upset.

Start talking to your small being about how they are feeling when they are in a positive state. Point out when they are laughing, playful, cheerful, content, quiet, and loving. Ask them what happened to make them feel that way. If we do, it's more likely they will remember the feeling and be able to find it again in the future.

  • Small beings get stuck in emotions:

Yes, knowing the labels for negative emotions and being able to express them is important. Lengthy ongoing conversation about feeling angry, however, probably will not stop your small being from having challenging behavior, like hitting.  

The actions need to change, not the emotion. Long conversations about being angry, mad, frustrated, upset, or out of control should include action-based solutions and not just feeling words.

With a focus on negative emotions it shouldn't be a surprise if small beings express more of the same. (Tweet) By switching focus you will change both emotions and behaviors!

Insight Into Action!

Parents: How can you teach your small being about positive emotions?

Teachers: What is one way that you would like shift the way you teach emotions?


Feedback? Thoughts? Comments? Leave 'um below or email me at: Info@BehaviorAndBeyond.net.

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