Young children feel a range of emotions but often find it difficult to interpret, process or know how to express them. This can lead to challenging behaviour in class, it can also affect a child’s confidence and control, their sense of self and their resilience.
PE lessons and physical activities are valuable tools to help children learn how to manage their emotions. During PE lessons or sport, children can also learn how to set simple goals and see how they are making progress which builds their confidence in their abilities.
Here are seven ways you can use PE to help children learn how to understand and manage their emotions.
Using PE lessons to reduce stress
Endorphins are your body’s ‘feel-good’ chemicals. You produce them to block pain or stress, which puts you in a positive state of mind. Physical activity helps children to release stress hormones. Running around, throwing balls, jumping and skipping – any physical activity that makes children work hard and increases their heart rate in a safe and enjoyable environment gives children the chance to let off steam, release tension and flood their bodies with the happy chemical, endorphin.
Building social skills through PE
PE, team sports and group activities help children learn how to work together, how to communicate effectively and help to develop their social skills. This can help build a sense of connection and belonging. Skills such as negotiation, co-operation, appreciating strengths of those around you, making positive contributions within a team, all build positive self esteem and empathy, allowing a better chance of coping with big emotions in a positive and confident way.
PE lessons can help to regulate emotions
Mindfulness activities such as yoga allow children to connect with their bodies and become more aware of how physical activity can affect their emotions. It can also help to calm their mind and regulate their emotions.
Building confidence through PE
Success – whether it is mastering a new skill, improving their own performance, achieving a goal or working as part of a team – can boost confidence and self-esteem by providing opportunities for children to experience a sense of accomplishment and pride.
Coping with challenges
Taking part in PE lessons, sports or physical activities often involves facing challenges and overcoming obstacles. Learning how to persevere increases resilience and makes a child better able to deal with and respond to wider life challenges.
Using PE to teach emotional intelligence
Sports and games provide opportunities to teach values such as sportsmanship, fair play and respect for others. Learning to manage emotions when taking part in a competition or event, and cooperating with others also helps children develop emotional intelligence.
Don’t forget to play
Having fun is so important, don’t forget to include time for play in the school day. As well as giving children a break from academic learning, play is an essential part of their development and supports emotional wellbeing whilst also contributing to a positive balanced mood.
Creating a warm, positive and inclusive environment where children feel safe and supported, is crucial to enabling children to learn and understand their own feelings and those of others.