Category Archives: feelings

Kids and anger

Do you have a student who has a low frustration tolerance?  Even the slightest thing sets him off?

Do you have a child that loses control and throws temper tantrums?  Are you walking on eggshells trying to keep her on an even keel?

What can you do to teach more emotional control?  In the past, we taught kids lots of simple anger techniques;  take a deep breath and count to ten, take a break, ask for help. These are all worthwhile and often effective.  However, when a child has frequent anger outbursts, these techniques alone don’t really get to the root of the problem.  What if instead of teaching children what to do after they get angry, we also taught them how to understand and manage their feelings?  What if we challenged their thinking that lead them to be angry in the first place?

Here is the technique:

  1. Teach children that all feelings come from our own thoughts, not from our circumstances.  This is good news.  It means that we are each responsible for our own feelings and consequently our own behavior.  No one else and no situation makes us happy or mad.  It is how we see or perceive the situation.  Circumstances are those things that happen that are outside of our control. Here are some examples of circumstances:
    1. Sally took the toy I was playing with.
    2. George said I couldn’t play on his team.
  2. Help children identify the thought that creates the feeling.  This is the hardest part of the technique but even young children can learn to identify, often in reviewing the circumstance in hindsight, what the thought was that preceded the feeling.  Here are some examples:
    1. Sally was mean to me.  She should wait her turn.
    2. George should include me on his team.
  3. Help children determine the feeling as well as the body sensations that go along with the feeling. This involves teaching children body language as well as the words that describe feelings.
    1. I feel mad.  My body is tense and I am clenching my fists.
    2. I feel left out.  I am tearing up and about to cry.
  4. Help children change the thought in order to change and control the feeling. This is the teaching moment where you may  need to help children think of more positive and productive thoughts.   Here are some examples:
    1. Sally didn’t share or ask nicely for the toy but I know a better way to play with others. Sally is learning how to share too and she is younger than I am.
    2. Everyone can’t be on the same team.  It is okay if I am on a different team.
  5. Identify the new behavior that follows:
    1. I will play with a different toy or I will ask the teacher to help.
    2. I will ask if I can join a different team.

This is obviously a technique that requires practice and understanding.  It is not meant to replace other behavior management techniques that calm and redirect children in the midst of difficult feelings.  Instead it is a means of educating children and teaching appropriate behavior. It is a technique to prevent problems before they start.  It also helps to prepare kids to handle difficult situations that they encounter later in life.

Related Posts:

3 ways to teach kids to handle anxiety

6 steps to manage test anxiety

Stressed out?

 

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Cooperation

Wyatt wants to play Frisbee. Max want to build a fort and Callie wants to have tea party. How do the three friends reconcile their differences? Can it be done? When Wyatt doesn’t get his way, Max’s mother suggests he be the Superhero for the day. Join Wyatt as he learns how the magic of cooperation and compromise can bring the five friends closer together.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog -Cooperation Cover
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Cooperation (Volume 6)

teaching kids to handle rejection

You don’t make the team

Your friend doesn’t invite you to to the party

Your essay, performance, or art work doesn’t win first place

Rejection is a part of life, for kids a well as for adults.  I bet we all know adults who never learned to handle rejection or obstacles well.  (Think John McEnroe and his famous temper tantrums on the tennis court.)  No one wants to raise a kid with similar outbursts.  So what’s the answer?  Teaching kids to control their mindset and to re-frame failure.

Here are some ideas:

Teach kids the power of not yet— When a child doesn’t win the trophy or make the team, don’t gloss over it and don’t get them a participation trophy so they fit in.  Instead teach kids that just because they didn’t make it this time there is always a chance to make it next time.  Teach them that persistence and effort make a difference.

Teach kids to be a learner, not a loser--Help kids understand that every failure has the seeds for growth in it.  An evaluated experience makes for an improved and better performance next time.  Teach them to ask:  What have I learned that I can do differently next time?

Teach kids positive self-talk–Often kids feel rejected, worthless and inadequate in the face of failure.  Teach them to identity the stories or messages they are telling themselves, to challenge those messages and replace them with a positive statement.  Instead of, “I always lose,” they can say “I’ll work hard and do better next time.”

Teach kids how to measure progress–Often we measure progress from how far we are from the goal; “I didn’t make a 100 on my test.”  Instead, teach them to measure progress from how far they are from where they started;  “On my last test, I made a C.  On this test I made a B.”

Teach kids that rejection can sometimes be redirection–And sometimes that is a good thing.  We aren’t meant to win at everything and sometimes it can be a sign that our strengths and talents lay in another area.  Evaluating whether or not to continue along the same path is part of the message that rejection can clarify.

 

Related posts:

The power of not yet in changing behavior

Four steps to change failure to success

Teach kids problem solving skills

 New!!  

Wyatt the Wonder Dog

Learns about Teamwork

Camping with his Boy Scout Troop is exciting and fun… until Max takes a serious fall while hiking.  When Wyatt and the rest of the Scouts use their emergency training to get Max safely out of the woods, they learn the value of teamwork and the power of community to achieve big goals.

Wyatt Learns about Teamwork

teaching kids to manage feelings

A standard lesson that I taught every year as an elementary school counselor was recognizing feelings. It was a fun lesson. I’d bring in large cut outs of children showing mad, sad, happy or scared feelings and ask kids to guess how the child was feeling. We’d talk about body language and how  we know what someone is feeling.  We described feelings and came up with positive ways to show how we feel and negative ways to express the same feeling.  For example. a positive way to handle anger is to talk about it and a negative way is to hit someone.

This approach to teaching feelings is useful and gives kids a common language for expressing their feelings.  However, it is a basic classroom lesson and doesn’t really cover all the bases in helping kids manage feelings, especially negative ones.   What can we teach the child who needs anger management strategies or the child who is anxious and fearful, beyond how to recognize these feelings and positive ways to act them out?

Typical lessons on managing emotions teach kids to do things that redirect their attention or to do something that helps them calm down so they can regain control.  An example of redirecting is when you are angry, read a book or watch a movie and the feeling will go away.  An example of a calming technique is to count to 10 or take deep breaths.  These are good ideas but they don’t really get to the root of the problem and for some kids they simply won’t be effective.

What if we also taught kids to use self-talk to manage feelings that are uncomfortable, feelings that create problems for them or that ultimately interfere with living their best life?  Here’s what it would look like:

  • Recognize and observe the feeling-“I’m feeling angry because my heart is beating fast, my hands and teeth are clenched and I’m breathing fast.
  • Reflect on the mental message that created the feeling– “I’m thinking… I had the toy first and my sister shouldn’t have taken the toy without asking.”
  • Change the message to change the feeling-“What if I thought instead “It’s okay for someone else to play with the toy.  It’s okay for me to share the toy but I’d like to be asked first.”
  • Determine behavior and actions based on the new calmer feeling– “I can talk to my sister and tell her that I don’t mind sharing the toy but I’d like for her to ask me first.

If you are thinking that takes a lot more time and effort than just telling someone to count to 10 when they are mad… you are right.  On the other hand, you are teaching kids the vital life skill of how to manage feelings rather than letting feelings run the show. Understanding how thoughts create feelings rather than the other way around is empowering because it doesn’t teach a pat response to coping with a negative feeling. Instead it teaches kids how to manage their self-talk in a positive way that is applicable to any situation.  It’s also much more effective.  After all, how often have you seen a kid stop, count to ten and then handle anger appropriately?  How often have you done it?  See what I mean?

Sometimes simple isn’t better.

 

Related Posts:

3 ways to teach kids to handle anxiety

6 steps to manage test anxiety

Stressed out?

 

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Cooperation

Wyatt wants to play Frisbee. Max want to build a fort and Callie wants to have tea party. How do the three friends reconcile their differences? Can it be done? When Wyatt doesn’t get his way, Max’s mother suggests he be the Superhero for the day. Join Wyatt as he learns how the magic of cooperation and compromise can bring the five friends closer together.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog -Cooperation Cover
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Cooperation (Volume 6)