Observation Guidelines: Assessing the Emotions of Children and Adolescents
Paul, age 17, chatters with his friends during his school’s end-of-the-year athletic field day. He is happy about having schoolwork over and looks forward to his summer job and paychecks.
Happiness helps people enjoy life and seek similar pleasurable experiences. Help children and adolescents find appropriate outlets to express their joy, and celebrate with them. Encourage them to talk about things they are happy about.
- Frowns and angry expressions
- Possible retaliation toward the target of anger
Aranya, age 14, is furious that she wasn’t admitted into an elective course, whereas her two closest friends were. Aranya is angry with her teacher, who she thinks dislikes her.
Anger helps people deal with obstacles to their goals, often spurring them to try new tactics. Help youngsters express their anger appropriately and determine how they can redirect their energy toward new solutions.
- Scared face
- Withdrawal from circumstances
- Physiological responses, such as sweating
Tony, age 21⁄2, sits on his mat, eyes wide, body tense. He stares at a new poster of a clown in his preschool classroom. On this particular day, he becomes downright scared; he runs to his teacher and buries his head in her lap.
Fear occurs when people feel threatened and believe that their physical safety and psychological well-being are potentially at stake. Fear motivates people to flee, escape from harm, seek reassurance, and perhaps fight back. Help children articulate their fears. Offer reassurance.
- Sad expression
- Being quiet
- Possible withdrawal from a situation
Greta, age 15, sits quietly on a bench near her locker. With her head hung low, she rereads the letter from a cheerleading organization. She has not been admitted to the prestigious cheerleading summer camp.
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