Reply To: Compassion fatigue in early childhood educators

  • intiblue42

    December 30, 2022 at 5:44 am

    When compassion fatigue shows up for me, which it has at times in these last six years in the industry, I do certain steps to help children feel cared about like getting down on their level, offering eye contact, offering but not requiring hugs from myself (and/or other students if they want to offer), offering choice of comfort stuffy to hug, ask how they feel about what’s happened and ask what they have done to feel more calm in the past. It’s a bit of a checklist in my head, because I know intellectually that it’s a big feeling for them and they need time to process. I express curiosity and caring from an intellectual place much of the time because I feel wrong faking feelings. Often it becomes a teaching moment to learn about a more complicated emotion like jealousy. I love a flip book I found on Amazon that has picture ideas of what to do when certain kinds of feelings show up. The one I use is ‘My Feelings My Choices Flip Book Tool.’ So, while I may not be feeling sympathetic, I can still choose to act in compassionate ways. Like I encourage the kids to do!

    If I’m feeling a little frustrated, I explain that I’m feeling frustrated because I know it takes time to help ourselves feel calm and I had planned other activities for our class; it takes me a minute or two to let go of how I hoped things would go for the whole class before these big feelings showed up and needed attention. If a child shows a pattern of expressing big feelings without even attempting some problem solving, like three times in a day and every day for over a week, I put effort into telling and showing how I solve problems, with more verbalizing of my thinking process. I work on more repetitions of the mantras I try to instill in the kids, like “practice makes better,” and “I can do hard things,” and setting up experiences with child-sized problems that the kids can and do manage on their own.

    I did change the age group I was working with a little over a year ago, and that has added variety and interest to my days because 4- and 5-year-old kids require different things (and way more prep work!) from their adults than 1- and 2-year-olds.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by  intiblue42. Reason: html code showed up in the text, deleted it