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Children: Navigating the Feelings that come with BIG Emotions

June 3, 2024

Written By Elizabeth Morse, Author of “The Emotional Bus is Struggling

As someone who deals with many issues like chronic pain, autoimmune diseases, stomach
issues, and complications after back surgery, I learned that masking my emotions would only
hurt myself and decided to speak up about the struggles that I was going through. I took this
thinking and brought it into my classroom and couldn’t believe the results. I have always wanted
to be a teacher, and even dressed up as one for career day in third grade. I went to college and
received my teaching certificate in 2012. Between then and now, so many things have changed
except my views on speaking up for yourself when it comes to your mental health and emotions.

During my time as a teacher, I had many parents who didn’t believe that their child could feel the
same emotions as them. I was a preschool teacher dealing with a lot of ‘threenagers’ who had
very big emotions and parents who had no idea how to handle them. I explained it as easy as,
they feel all the same emotions as we do, but don’t know how to identify, explain, and deal with
these emotions. Now, time for exercise. I want you to picture yourself as a three-year-old child,
sitting in the middle of the classroom building a whole town from blocks, animals, and people.
You have made it through lunch, nap time, and a craft, just waiting until the afternoon when it’s
free play- your favorite time of the day. You are lying on the ground immersed in your town when
a friend comes over and kicks your whole town apart. You scream and cry at the top of your
lungs. You get up and start running after your friend when your teacher steps in front of you to
see what happened. In that moment, you are feeling so much at once, but you can’t put words
together, so you just scream. It’s too hard to calm down and listen to what your teacher is
saying. That scene you were building means everything to you and now it’s gone. It’s hard for
you, as a child, to figure out what emotions you are feeling, how to handle them, and how to
make yourself feel better. This may seem like ‘not a big deal’ to an adult, but when something
like this happens to a child, it means everything to them and feels like their entire world is falling
apart. Remember, at this age they think that the world revolves around them and only them.

When something like this happened in my classroom, I had certain ‘tools’ that I used for a big
emotional moment. If the child was too overwhelmed and dealing with something like the scene
above, I had a ‘cool out corner’ where there were toys and gadgets that the child could focus on
to calm down. I made sure that the children understood that this wasn’t a ‘bad’ corner where you
only go to when you are in trouble. After the child calmed down, we would sit and have a
conversation about what happened and the big emotion(s). Some things that I focused on were
what happened, why they reacted that way, what emotions they were feeling, and what would
make them feel better. Once I started sitting down and talking with the child through their
emotion, I realized how much it was helping. It became more like friends talking instead of
teacher/student, and this is the point in time where I started calling my students ‘friends’ instead
of ‘students’ and emotions weren’t looked at as “good” or “bad” but rather just emotions or “big

I ended up having to leave teaching in 2017 and it was one of the hardest decisions I had to
make. I felt like I was a shell of myself because of the toll on my body from teaching and my
disabilities. I decided to take all of the years of experience in teaching, babysitting, working with
kids, and my own emotions, and write a book about something that mattered and was hard to
talk about: those big emotions! In my first book, I wanted to write about an emotion that was
close to my heart after years of battling illnesses and my disabilities- struggling! I wanted to
write a book that could be used as a tool in people’s lives, and my main character, The
Emotional Bus, or E.B., could be looked at as a friend and a teacher, just like I was. Struggling
doesn’t have to be looked at as ‘bad’, but rather just like any emotion. Being able to identify,

showing what it may look or feel like, how to help yourself, or when to ask for help is now my
mission in life. Can you imagine a child walking up to you and saying, “I’m struggling today
because of…” and starting that open conversation about their day and big emotions. Mental
health and these big emotions in children need to be talked about more, and I’m hoping I’m
paving the way to help open the minds of adults and how we need to talk about emotions rather
than hide them. We’re all in this together.

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