Sunday, July 26, 2009

Angry Reads!

As promised, here's a new Read Your Way Through post. My bookish attempt to counteract:

  • Tantrums

  • Anger

  • and Frustration, oh my!
Although my smart little J is sensitive, perceptive, loving, and a well-spoken 2 year-old, he's struggling with how to express his feelings of frustration.

"No" has been present in his vocabulary for over a year now, but the volume at which it is said is really cranked up these days. If what we want to hear is "Yeah, I want to", instead the response we get is "But, I don't want to".

Shoes and socks are now dangerous projectiles. Warnings are ignored; and, time-outs are less effective now--they almost seem to rev up his anger, causing further outbursts and stress.

Turning to books for advice, tactics, and insight into this behavior has reminded me to:
~take extra note of his good behavior
~focus on being compassionate and calm even as the shoes are flying into the front seat of the car on our way home from a playdate
~spend less time and energy enforcing time-outs, instead focusing on modeling "cool-down" tactics and teaching words to express frustration

Here's a handful of books I've found helpful without being preachy. J enjoys them too, just as any other "regular" story about trucks or trains or animals.

Mouse Was Mad by Linda Urban
This one's great because it isn't corny, it gets J to laugh at Mouse's situation, it shows how NOT to deal with anger, and then it models a fantastic cool-down technique--taking deep breaths.

So simple! Now, when I see J revving up, I go straight to "Remember Mouse? When he was mad, he took some deep breaths and then felt much better. Why don't you try?" I do it with him and then when he's calmed a bit, I jokingly remind him of how Mouse got so hopping mad that he fell into a "mucky mud puddle". He thinks that phrase is hilarious.

Feet Are Not for Kicking by Elizabeth Verdick

While I'm happy to say that kicking isn't an issue in our house, I know it can be an outlet for frustration and anger. This book is cute because it's a simple board book that reminds you of all the fun stuff you can do with your feet: running, jumping, kicking a pile of leaves. If you have a younger toddler struggling with hitting and kicking, I think this would be helpful.

When Sophie Gets Angry--Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang

When Sophie gets really angry, you can see it in her eyes! The illustrations make sure of that--there's a two-page spread of just Sophie's angry face!

Instead of lashing out, Sophie takes off running to vent her frustration and clear her head. Obviously an older child, Sophie and her particular situation and solution don't resonate all that well with J. But, I like this Caldecott Honor book because of the color and vibrancy with which it depicts anger, frustration, and eventually: THE CALM.

Lastly, I'll leave you with some lyrics from the great Jim Gill. (Give him a guitar and a room full of kids and he'll have them laughing, singing, dancing and doing whatever he tells them to in no time!) He has a cute song called Hands Are for Clapping, which J likes to dance along to. Besides being fun, this song gives me ammunition when I need to remind J that hands are not for hitting!

Hands are for clapping
Clapping to this song
Hands are for clapping
Let's all clap along

Toes are for tapping...

Knees are for slapping...

Fingers are for snapping...

Teeth are for brushing....

And, books are for reading! Enjoy these reads.

1 comment:

Jenni said...

Thanks--this is such an important topic for kids (and stay-at-home parents, I might add). My daughter likes the Sophie book. I'll have to check out these others!