In January Project Cornerstone parents read in your child’s classroom the book When Sophie Gets Angry-Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang. In the book, Sophie becomes very angry one day and releases her angry energy by removing herself from the situation. This story helps children understand that anger is one of many emotions that everyone experiences.
In the lesson, the students discussed their current relaxation strategies and learned new ones to use when angry, in order to not respond out of anger. Identifying, acknowledging and choosing how to react to intense emotions helps youth switch directions and take control of their behavior.
When you notice signs of escalating feelings, remind your child and others in a calm, neutral voice that they have the power. Help them notice and acknowledge their feelings. Empower youth by allowing them to choose a safe and calm response to intense emotions. Some suggestions are:
Help your child identify and acknowledge how they are feeling with words. “You are frowning, is that puzzle frustrating? Can I help?” “You are using a loud, angry voice. Are you mad? Tell me about it.”
- Help your child chose safe ways to calm themselves:
- Do physical activity. Put on music and dance away the anger.
- Take deep breaths.
- Count to 10. If still angry, count to 10 again and add deep breaths.
- Remove yourself from the situation. Take a break in a safe, quiet place.
- Use art materials such as markers, paint, or other art materials to express feelings.
- Use toys, stuffed animals or action figures to role play feelings.
- Put out play dough, pillows or punching bags to pound and twist intense feelings away.
- As a caring adult, notice and acknowledge your own feelings. Role model the techniques you use to stay calm and in control. Share your successful strategies with youth.
- Help youth use I messages to state how they feel. “I feel ______ when you ______.”
- In a calm emotional state, discuss past experiences with out of control feelings.
- Ask about emotional triggers and what we notice as our emotions start feeling out of control? What actions and activities help us feel better? Share ideas for identifying and acknowledging intense emotions before they spin out of control. Celebrate successes.
- Remind youth of the temporary nature of setbacks and frustration.
Finding safe and constructive ways to deal with powerful emotions is an essential life skill. Thank you for taking the time to help your child practice these skills at home, and for supporting Project Cornerstone.