10 Don’t Get So Upset!
example, allowing children to speak out or make a stand for them-
selves can feel inappropriate, even intimidating, when we have dif-
ficulties being assertive ourselves.
Having confronted some uncomfortable emotions and dis-
cussed some of our inappropriate interventions, I turn in chapter 5
to the question of why we do what we do, as we claim our child-
hood traumas large and small. This chapter leads us into self-
reflection. By creating a type of internal ethnography, or qualitative
study of ourselves, which I call “researching the self,” we begin by
taking a look at our own emotional history. In doing so, we become
aware of what makes us uncomfortable in children’s emotional situ-
ations, and we understand how the discipline we received as young
children affects our interventions and interactions with behaviors
we consider challenging.
As we are repeatedly tested with our responses in emotional sit-
uations, we also come to know ourselves more deeply. Once we cre-
ate a foundation of self, where we are on the road to confronting,
understanding, and accepting our own emotions, we are in a better
position to think about practical applications of discipline strategies
in the classroom. In the sixth chapter, I discuss setting limits, what
to do about tantrums, and how to meet our expectations to create
safe emotional environments for ourselves as well as the children.
I also take a look at the difference between discipline and punish-
ment. By applying strategies that do not humiliate, punish, or scold,
we learn, as children and adults, to accept the negative as well as the
positive aspects of all our emotions.
In the final chapter, “We Can Change Our Emotional Scripts,”
I talk about telling the story of our emotional history. Hyson tells
us that children’s emotional development is too important to be
left to chance (Hyson 2004). But what about the teachers who are