This morning Sarah Lu introduced a new puppet to the children at circle. His name is Mr. Mad. He asked the preschoolers, “Have you ever felt really, really mad?” Most could remember a time when they had felt this strong emotion. He asked, “What does your mad face look like?” And they provided some examples:
He proceeded to tell a story of one time when he felt especially mad. His friend, Joey, came up and grabbed the bike he was riding. Mr. Mad got so angry that he hit Joey. He asked everyone, “What could I have done differently?” Many of the children suggested using his words to talk to his friend Joey or to ask for his bike back, Mr. Mad cut them off–“But I felt so mad!! What’s a safe thing I could have done with the mad that I felt?” Mr. Mad knew that often when he is feeling angry he cannot problem solve or talk through a solution until he has calmed down. Some other suggestions were offered, he could take four deep breaths or run, run, run really fast. Mr. Mad liked these ideas. He also reminded everyone about the classroom relax bottle. Then he retold the story using one of these solutions. Concluding with a very important lesson that can be hard for all of us to remember sometimes, “So I took four deep breaths and you know what? I didn’t feel quite so mad anymore. I was able to ask for my bike back and Joey said, ‘Sure.’ I was really mad, but then I took care of myself by taking some breaths, and I felt better. Because, you know what, feelings change.”
Many children can be overwhelmed and bewildered by big emotions, especially anger which is often layered on top of hurt, disappointment or frustration. One way to help them understand this was suggested in the book Beyond Behavior Management, throughout the day you can remind your preschooler how they were feeling previously and how they are feeling now, “Earlier this morning you were feeling sad when your dad dropped you off at school. Now you are feeling happy playing with your friends. Feelings change.”
There was a mix-up at the lunch table today which resulted in part of Ujia’s lunch being eaten by another child. He felt angry and disappointed, his friends offered hugs or comfort, but he was nearly inconsolable. Later when Sarah Lu checked in with him and apologized for her role in the mix-up. He told her, “That’s okay, Sarah Lu. My feelings changed.” Mr. Mad would be proud.
What’s your favorite way to safely deal with the mad that you feel? How do you (or could you) model these methods for your children?