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1.4.1: Emotional Support Domain

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    The emotional support domain focuses on what you can do to help children develop positive, supportive relationships with you and others, feel comfortable expressing ideas and emotions, and have an opportune amount of independence (Teachstone, n. d). The dimensions in this domain are positive climate, negative climate, librarian sensitivity, and regard for children’s perspectives (Hamre et al., 2013).

    Positive Climate

    Four indicators signal a positive climate: relationships, positive affect, positive communication, and respect (Downing, 2013).

    • Build relationships with children and caregivers by having social conversations, providing activities in which children and caregivers interact with you and with one another, and guiding children to help peers when small problems arise (such as asking a child to get tape to help fix a peer’s torn coloring page).
    • Promote positive affect by greeting those who attend storytime, showing enthusiasm for the books you’re reading and activities you’re engaging in, and frequently smiling and laughing with children. (You’re likely already excelling at this!)
    • Use positive communication by stating your expectations positively (see more on this in the Behavior Management section of the Organization of the Environment Domain) and by giving positive feedback. For examples:
      • Acknowledge a child’s words – even if they are “off-topic” – with a simple affirmative word or phrase (Okay; I understand; That’s good to know) or with eye contact and a nod or smile
      • Use a child’s name when responding to their statement.
      • Repeat a child’s short utterance as a complete sentence. (Bonus: this also models language, providing instructional support.)
    • Show respect by using a welcoming, calm tone of voice, actively listening when children talk, making eye contact with children, using polite language such as “please” and “thank you,” and encouraging children to also show respect to you and one another in these ways.

    Negative Climate

    As you might expect, a negative climate is something you'll want to avoid because it indicates the presence of negative behaviors and interactions either between an adult and child or child and child (Downing, 2013). The most severe indicators of a negative climate are bullying, threats, and physical punishment. Other indicators include sarcasm, teasing, anger, yelling, and harsh voices. These can often be avoided by focusing on creating a positive climate, but if they do occur, direct communication is key. After correcting the behavior in the moment, try to talk with the child’s caregiver after the storytime session to determine the cause of the behavior and create a plan to de-escalate if a similar situation were to occur in the future.

    Librarian Sensitivity

    Four indicators show librarian sensitivity: awareness, responsiveness, addressing problems, and child comfort (Downing, 2013). (Bonus: many of the practices listed here will also help with Behavior Management per the Organization of the Environment Domain.)

    • Practice awareness during planning by thinking through problems children and caregivers may encounter during activities and how you can avoid or work through them. Practice awareness as you deliver storytimes by deliberately pausing to observe children and caregivers, checking for understanding and interest.
    • Show responsiveness by acknowledging children’s emotions, offering comfort as appropriate, and assisting children individually when possible.
    • Address problems effectively by responding in a timely manner and talking through the problems with the child and/or caregiver to reach a resolution.
    • Build children’s comfort by giving them guidance and choice in how to participate in various activities. You might also consider ways to provide comfort by softening the storytime space with rugs, curtains, a lamp, or cushions or other soft seating, contributing to a home-like atmosphere (Campana et al., 2020).

    Regard for Children’s Perspectives

    Four indicators demonstrate that the storytime is designed specifically with the needs and expectations of children in mind: flexibility and child focus, support for autonomy and leadership, child expression, and restriction of movement (Downing, 2013).

    • Show flexibility and child focus by planning multiple activities ahead of time so that you can choose among them based on children’s interests and reactions. For examples:
      • If children ask for a different song or want to repeat a song or activity more than once – go for it!
      • If children show disinterest in a book or restlessness - it’s okay to skip pages or simply stop reading.
      • Prepare a short song or action rhyme that can be done if the children get restless and need to let loose some energy.
      • Prepare a short song or action rhyme or breathing exercise to help children calm down.
    • Similarly, support children’s autonomy and leadership by giving children choices and inviting them to take the lead in an activity, such as demonstrating the movements for a song. You might also consider displaying children’s artwork and craft creations as decorations in the storytime area which may give them a sense of ownership in storytime (Campana et al., 2020).
    • Encourage children’s expression by asking open-ended questions that allow them to share their thoughts, opinions, feelings, and experiences (Bonus: this also promotes higher order thinking and is related to concept development, which we discuss in the Instructional Support Domain.)
    • Provide appropriate freedom of movement by giving clear behavior expectations for each activity while providing accommodations and options if a child cannot or does not want to do the activity.

    1.4.1: Emotional Support Domain is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.