Mastering Containment for Young Children

Mastering Containment for Young Children

Mastering Containment for Young Children 1687 1126 Nursery Story

Emotional containment in early childhood refers to the way in which a safe and nurturing environment is created. When children are contained, they feel supported to be themselves, expressing their feelings and learn how to understand and manage their emotions. Not only does containment support children’s emotional development by supporting children to recognise and regulate their emotions, but it also supports attachment, strengthening a child’s bond with their key person, promoting a sense of security.

Containment also develops children’s social skills, supporting the development of empathy and conflict resolution; and supports children’s long-term wellbeing.

Early years practitioners play a crucial role in supporting young children to feel contained and safe. Being emotionally contained in early childhood by attuned, knowledgeable and caring adults supports mental health and resilience in later life. Important strategies and approaches that are key in emotionally containing young children include:

  • Responsive Listening: Actively listen to children when they express their emotions, showing empathy and understanding.
  • Create a Safe Environment: Ensure that the physical and emotional environment is safe and nurturing, allowing children to feel secure.
  • Establish Consistent Routines: Predictable routines and transitions provide stability and reduce anxiety.
  • Teach Emotional Vocabulary: Help children label their emotions, so they can communicate their feelings effectively.
  • Model Emotional Regulation: Demonstrate how to manage emotions calmly and appropriately.
  • Offer Comfort: Comfort children when they are upset, offering hugs or soothing words as needed.
  • Encourage Expression: Provide opportunities for creative expression, such as drawing or storytelling.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: Teach children problem-solving techniques to deal with difficult situations.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Praise and acknowledge children when they handle emotions well.
  • Collaboration with Parents: Maintain open communication with parents to ensure consistency in emotional support.
  • Professional Development: Continuously educate practitioners on child psychology and emotional development.

Emotional containment not only creates a positive, safe emotional environment in nurseries for children, it is also important for practitioners too. Emotionally containing staff as a leader is essential for creating a positive and productive work environment, which is especially important in the context of early childhood education.

Here’s why it matters:

  • Job Satisfaction: When staff feel emotionally supported, they are more satisfied in their roles, leading to higher morale and motivation.
  • Reducing Burnout: Emotional containment helps prevent staff burnout by acknowledging and addressing their emotional needs, reducing stress levels.
  • Enhanced Communication: It fosters open and honest communication between leaders and staff, promoting a culture of trust and transparency.
  • Improved Performance: Emotionally contained staff are more likely to be engaged, leading to better job performance and the provision of high-quality care and education for young children.
  • Reduced Turnover: When staff feel valued and supported, they are less likely to leave their positions, reducing turnover and the associated costs of recruitment and training.
  • Positive Role Modelling: Leaders who practice emotional containment set an example for staff, demonstrating how to manage emotions effectively in a professional setting.
  • Team Cohesion: Emotional containment fosters a sense of belonging and teamwork among staff, which is vital for collaborative work in early years education.
  • Personal Growth: It supports the personal and professional growth of staff by creating an environment where they can learn and develop.
  • Legal and Ethical Considerations: In the UK, there are legal and ethical obligations to ensure the well-being of staff, making emotional containment a duty of care.

For more information about how to use Nursery Story to support staff well-being, job satisfaction, and the quality of care and education provided to young children in your setting visit


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