I just saw the coolest lesson on learning to cope with negative emotions, and I had to share.
I don’t have any visuals because I haven’t done it myself yet, and I can’t even find a reference to it through my Google search, so you’ll have to go through my description. I definitely can’t take credit for this idea…it came from a counselor named Sarah in one of my school counseling groups. I don’t know if she has a blog or anything, but I hope she makes one because this is genius!
You begin by telling a story where a child gets in trouble due to a reaction to anger. For example, Johnny and Sarah both want to play on the computer during free time. They toss a coin and Sarah wins the 15 minutes on the computer. Johnny is so angry that he doesn’t get to play, he throws his shoe at the computer.
Why did Johnny get in trouble?
Most kids will say because he threw his shoe, but the real reason Johnny is in trouble is because he failed to cope with his emotions.
This gives you an opportunity to discuss how it is OK to get angry or disappointed, but it how we react to these feelings that is important.
Now here’s the fun part.
Take a paper cup and put water in it. Explain that the water represents your poor decisions and reactions (throwing things, saying bad words, hitting something, etc). Now, take a pencil. The pencil is anger or disappointment. Begin poking holes in the bottom of the cup so that the water spills out.
Explain that this is what happens when we don’t learn ways to cope with our emotions. Now is the time to bring out your “magic” coping skills. Take a new cup with a bit of water in it and sprinkle some “magic” coping dust into the cup. The magic dust? The beads from the inside of a disposable diaper! After you sprinkle these in, take your pencil and poke holes in the cup again. The beads should have absorbed all the water and prevented the water from spilling out.
What an amazing visualization for young kids on the power of managing our emotions.