In a recent webinar, we welcomed Dr. Donna Housman and Emily Stone from Housman Institute. Donna and Emily joined us for a conversation on “The Power of Emotional Intelligence for Early Childhood Educators.” Dr. Housman helped us understand that as early childhood educators, it is imperative to focus on our own emotional well–being first. We explored why this is important not only for our own mental health, but also for our physical health, emotional well-being, and success of the children in our care. Donna and Emily discussed how young children’s interactions and experiences with the significant adults in their lives are foundational to their long-term emotional, cognitive, and social development. These key child-adult relationships help to inform and shape a child’s ability to understand and manage their own emotions and those of others, and lay the foundation of emotional intelligence by providing them with an emotional toolkit for life.
Watch the webinar that inspired this article here!
Your emotions matter now more than ever
Long before the pandemic, early childhood educators were already experiencing record levels of stress, anxiety, and burnout. The state of our current world – the pandemic, combined with social and global unrest – only exacerbated the situation, leaving so many educators unable to do the work they love, and many leaving the field altogether. Managing your own emotions and needs, while also supporting the emotions of your colleagues, children, and families can be too much to handle. More than ever before, early childhood educators are feeling anxious, stressed, depressed, and burned out. When feelings are left unmanaged, our thinking is interrupted – we cannot focus, problem-solve, make decisions, or move forward.
The brain likes predictability, yet the last few years have been anything but. When we are overwhelmed, our brain becomes hijacked by emotions. This leads to difficulties across the board – when engaging with others, when navigating challenges, developing a positive sense of self, and the development of empathy. Our daily experiences become an obstacle course of emotions, making it all the more challenging to do or even be our best.
Watching for the signs: what is the difference between stress and burnout?
Stress is the body’s response to overwhelming circumstances, which can be negative or positive changes. Stress can be temporary, such as when preparing for a presentation, or prolonged, like navigating the third year of the pandemic. Chronic stress can impact your whole body and when left unmanaged, stress can leave a long-term impact physically and emotionally.