I’m teacher Jarrod, the director of CCS and a parent at the school too. Today in my video I’m talking about dealing with hard feelings, like confusion, frustration, sadness, and disappointment. I read the wonderful book Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. I also (spoiler alert!) react to some real life (well, “real life”) situations that make me feel confused, frustrated, and disappointed, and model ways to deal with those feelings.
LEARNING AREAS: Recognizing feelings and developing strategies to deal with them is a huge component of mindfulness, one of the four pillars of CCS’s curriculum. In building these strategies, children develop self-control and confidence—and also the ability to empathize with and support others having similar feelings. Skills I model in this video include naming the feeling I’m experiencing; investigating the source of the feeling; pausing and breathing in the midst of a feeling; self-compassion; and identifying and empathizing with feelings others are having. In this most challenging of times, these skills are all crucial for everyone’s wellbeing!
Note, the sequence of reactions to hard feelings I model here is adapted in part from the “RAIN” model, a mindfulness practice for adults. You can read more about this model at Tara Brach’s website. And as an aside, I highly recommend Tara Brach’s podcast for all human beings who have, you know, emotions and relationships.
ACTIVITY #1—Make a family motto!
In the video, I use the motto, “I’ve felt ____ before, and I know I’ll be okay” (taught to me by Teacher Carrie). But maybe that motto doesn’t quite resonate for your family. Come up with one that does! In a calm time (NOT while someone is feeling a hard emotion) talk about what kind words would help you feel better when you want to feel better. When you agree on a phrase (“I love me even when I’m angry!” “It’ll be okay.” “I won’t feel this way forever.” …), write it in big letters on a piece of paper, and decorate it together, and hang it on the wall somewhere you can see it when everyone is going about their day. Practice saying it—starting the lowest-possible stakes environment. For instance, put on a puppet show together where you can give the puppets opportunities to say it. Then do some pretend play where you get to say it. Then model using it for your children when YOU have a hard feeling. They probably WON’T start saying it aloud themselves in real-life hard situations, at least not for awhile, but that’s okay—by making it a shared practice in your home, it’s likely to become part of their internal monologue.
ACTIVITY #2—The terrible horrible no good very bad day
Make up a story together about the worst things that could possibly happen. I promise, it’s cathartic! You can do it with puppets or toys or just your imagination. When you’re done, draw pictures of your favorite parts. Write it down together and then re-read it. Tell it again and make it even more outlandish. Call a family member or friend on the phone and tell them the story. Telling stories like this for fun, as a shared activity, can take away some power from the awfulness when things happen in real life.
Thanks, and I hope your week doesn’t have too many hard feelings 🙂