Friday, July 23, 2010

Do you have a Tiger inside?

Yesterday I chased my daughter around the house, trying to trap her under a plastic laundry basket.  She insisted that she was a tiger who needed to be caged.  The growling, showing of claws and pouncing verified her identity.  She was clearly seeking a safe place to feel "tiger-ish," but I don't want her to be caged... I want her to be free.  How to do I teach my daughter that her "tiger" feelings are ok? 

I've been blessed with a kid who has a lot of feelings.  Or that's how we describe it.  Some would say she's also a "sensitive" child.  This means we encounter lots of tantrums, some harsh words and actions that require tough consequences, and an overabundance of goofy fun!  Knowing that soon she'll be sharing her life with a baby sister, we've been encountering more than the usual outbursts from our deep feeler.  We've just finished a little homeschooling unit about Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in which we also discussed trees, family trees and lots of other fun stuff.  Our last "fruit" we studied was "self-control." 

Here are some things I used to discuss self-control with my almost-four-year-old:
  • In preparation I found this great behavior template from the NASP (National Association of School Psychologists) about teaching young children self-control that helped me think about what exactly I wanted to teach and how I would teach it.
  • We listened to The Music Machine song about self-control.  We've been adding a new song for each "fruit" and discussing what they mean.
  • We read the book "Emily's Tiger" by Miriam Latimer.  This is a great Barefoot Book about learning self-control and understanding your feelings before they control you!  We talked about some of the coping skills Emily's grandmother helped her learn.  And she saw that there are safe people in your life who want to help you learn to cope.  Another great book about self-control is "Pinkalicious" by Elizabeth and Victoria Kann (not a Barefoot Book).  It's more about controlling your desires than your feelings, but still great.  We also discussed Adam and Eve in the garden and their lack of self-control when faced with temptation.
  • I helped my daughter make little monster faces, each expressing different feelings.  We talked about what her body feels like when she's feeling these different things and then we hung them up on the back of her door in her room.  When I send her to her room to take some space (not a time-out- it's not a punishment, just a chance for her to calm down), she can look at her monsters and decide how she's feeling (happy, sad, angry, lonely, etc.).  Then we can discuss what happened with a better point of reference.
  • Of course we did actual school work!   Careful cutting and pasting, working with her writing and reading, and math skills all require great self-control and discipline.
How do you handle the issue of self-control in your family?  I'd love to hear more ideas, as I'm sure the topic is far from exhausted in our house!

1 comment:

Thru a Tori-lens said...

yikes- spammers! Sorry folks, I'll be watching this more closely.