Deal With the Way You Feel

Pillow Emotion cannot be separated from cognition. How a child feels about himself, his ability to think and learn, the subject he is studying, his teacher—all impact his thinking and learning. Moreover, when we, or our children, are in the middle of a strong emotion—fear, anger, grief—we are literally not reasonable. We cannot think. Our brains and bodies are flooded with feeling—we cannot think straight.
The time to think about how to manage emotion is when we are feeling calm and thoughtful. Think about the things that help you get back into a good mood and write and illustrate each one on a card. Make a cover or container that says, “Do not open ‘til you feel bad…” and save for an emotionally stormy or desolate day. Some ideas kids have put on cards:
• Run a race with yourself.
• Sing or whistle in the shower.
• Wrestle with your dog.
• Hit a pillow.
• Look in a mirror and laugh.
• Talk to someone who cares about you.
• Exercise, dance or play sports.
• Change your rhythm: Jump rope, do a clapping game, play drums, shadowbox.
• Write your bad feelings on paper and tear them to shreds.
• Play a game you usually win (or don’t mind losing).
• Take deep breaths. (Do yoga if you know how!)
• Tense and relax your muscles. (One idea is to push one of your fists into the other as you silently sing, “La cucaracha.”)
• Count to 10 (or 100 or 1000).
• Draw or paint the colors, lines and textures of your feelings.
• Read a murder mystery or watch a funny movie.
• Build with blocks or dominoes and knock them down.
• Listen to soothing (or energizing) music. (I like Mozart’s Piano Concerto 21, Andante (Elvira Madigan) for soothing and Benny Goodman’s “Sing! Sing! Sing!” for energizing.)
• Do not text, call or email until you are in a good mood.
• Do something you are really good at doing.

Classroom teachers might try these chants:

Younger children:

I won’t hurt others
When I feel mad.

I won’t hurt myself
When I feel sad.

I won’t hurt things
When I feel bad.

Take care what you do
When you feel mean or blue!

Older children:
(Tune: “Yankee Doodle”)

Sometimes people just don’t think!
That can make you feel bad.
Sometimes they get in your way.
That can make you feel mad!

Hold your temper—Count to 10!
Try to get a-lo-ong!
Walk away—just walk away
Even if they’re wro-ong!

Sometimes life seems really hard.
You might give up hoping.
Nothing seems to come out right
And you get tired of coping!

Change your rhythm! Change your mood!
Run and jump and shou-out!
Tell a friend—it’s not the end!
Let those bad feelings ou-out!

All of us feel bad sometimes,
Even me and you-ou!
Next time we get sad or mad,
We’ll know what to do-o!

Something silly—something fun!
Dance or shake or si-ing!
Be kind to you and kind to me
And don’t hurt anythi-ing!

(Tune: “On Top of Old Smokey”)

Emociones malas—
no darlas alas.
Puedo cambiarme
y nunca bajarme.

Cuando enojarse,
salir, apartarse.
a diez puede contar
en vez de luchar

De tensión quitarse
tratar de calmarse
mover, respirar,
reir o jugar.

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