How to teach kids to turn explosive anger into creative rocket fuel
Children have LOTS of feelings. Part of our job as parents and educators is to teach them what to do with all those emotions.
Let's face it, it's hard enough to deal with our own emotions let alone the constant ebb and flow of every child in our care. One of the great mistakes parents and educators make is an automatic reaction to a child's actions. In essence, we are doing the very thing we are chastising the child for doing. Hmmm... and so the cycle begins...
So what do you do with the kid that "pushes your buttons"?
This might not be the answer you were hoping for but the first thing you need to do is re-set your button sensitivity. A child can't push buttons that don't exist.
I realize this is harder to do than say. Some kids just push and push until you finally snap, but here's the great news, you are the adult in the room so you have the ability to channel this narrative before it escalates.
Get honest and ask yourself "why" questions until you get to the root reason this child gets your goat. Then backwards plan to consider what you can do to keep this child from pushing you into a reactionary mode. We call this the Stop-Think-Act tool. At this point we aren't focusing on what you do as much as why you do it.
Use this same process to get to the real reason this child is reacting. Are they tired? frustrated? sugar-maxed? Are they scared? Does it hit their value? What has taken place prior to the meltdown? You are searching for the fuel and the triggers. Then pre-emptively plan how to re-route the child to avoid the fuel and what to do to re-channel the energy of a melt-down once it's triggered.
We are emotional beings. We internally react to our external environment. We are also control freaks, so when our brain feels threatened or frustrated by a situation or circumstance it can't control, it propels us into a fight or flight mode to take control.
The trick is to pre-empt the situations that prompt the out-of-control feelings, which in-turn curb the out-of-control reactions. Children don't know how to pre-empt situations; this is a skill that must be learned. If you can stay one step ahead of how your child or student might react, you can usually provide a path for that child to find solutions—and eventually, they'll learn this skill for themselves through your example.
Think of each situation like this:
1. Does it throw fire on a short fuse? (—causing a fight or flight response.)
2. Does it fuel the child with choices and strategies? (—providing alternative paths.)
This is obviously oversimplified, but when you teach children the stop-think-act tool, you empower them with cause and effect reasoning.
For best results use this lesson with the Championeers! ESE Unit, Cowpie County. The corresponding STEM project creates "focus bottles". This fun activity provides a tangible way to reinforce this concept and turn it into a positive BRAIN GAME that helps children think before they act.
Step #3 - Train your brain to focus! (Stop-Think-Act)
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Deanna Rhinehart Championeers! Emotional Safety Education Systems
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