An icon illustrating a parent and child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As parents, we’re often given messages to quiet our children when they’re upset. Often, these messages are more for the purpose of keeping things quiet or not dealing with our own discomfort that our child is not behaving in an appropriate way. Yet, how much of our discomfort and wish for quiet stems from the idea that showing emotions are good or bad? How much of the urge to calm comes from the need to control or appear a certain way?
If parent and child are working together to connect and love unconditionally, sometimes the more difficult path is the more rewarding. Allowing bumps and bruises as a child explores their world, is important for both physical and emotional development. As parents, we can model and share our own life lesson with our kids, trusting that they take them into their explorations as they make their own choices. And internalized versions of lessons are the most powerful ones a person can create.
The strong bond of unconditional love is only strengthened by stepping back and trusting a child. They know we are there to swoop in when needed for real emergencies. They give back trust to us every time we are allowed to express love and are given a window into their feelings through their words and actions.
1. It allows them control over their own coping skills.
2. It takes parental urge to control quiet and discomfort out of the equation.
3. It lets kids know that all emotions are acceptable.
4. It gives kids the chance to understand that feeling out of control is not something that need overwhelm you.
5. It allows kids the opportunity to personalize calming skills that they have seen their parents model.
6. It gives parents a mirror to learn how their own coping skills and emotional acceptance actually are.
7. It lets the child decide when, if and how to ask for and accept comfort.
8. It eliminates pushing parents’ buttons that can sometimes be a factor in prolonging upset.
9. Choice can be done from a parent’s arms or privately, wherever the child needs.
10. Most importantly, a child learns that they have the right to feel and will be loved no matter what.
How comfortable are you allowing your child choose how and when to calm? Is it easy or difficult for you? I’d love to hear from you.
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Posted in Book Review, tagged Book, book review, Child, Children, Children's Books, Children's literature, Emotion, Home, Horace, kidlit, Mean Soup, Parent, Sark, Smiling Like Sunshine, Soup, Tantrum on October 17, 2011 |
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Cover of Mean Soup
It’s Book Sharing Monday from Smiling Like Sunshine! We read a lot of books in this family and I love hearing from other parents when they come across a book that their kids liked. So, I’m going to be adding weekly posts about books that my kids recommend. Feel free to share any you’ve come across that might be a nice complement to the one I’m reviewing
by Betsey Everitt
One of the things I try to support with my children is that feelings are okay. Feelings are neither good nor bad. They just are. It is up to each person to decide how to be when they feel something.
I try to avoid phrases like, “That made me [feeling]” or “I am [this feeling]” in favor of phrases like, “I like/did not like [that action]” or “I feel [feeling].” It’s pretty ingrained in me to say the former and I have to practice the latter. But, it is an important difference in empowering my kids to manage their feelings as they are able. The point is that even when someone reacts to a feeling, there is nothing wrong with that. Every moment is another chance to choose how to react or not react to something. If the current moment is missed. There will be another one.
Since my children are children, I try to access the idea of feelings as being okay through roleplaying, imaginative play and games, empathy and modeling, just acting silly, and lots of reading. This book, Mean Soup, covers all of these areas nicely.
The little boy in this book, Horace, comes home after a bad day. He’s feeling so mean that he hisses at his mother then throws a temper tantrum. So, his mom puts a pot of water on the stove and proceeds to make soup. She tosses some salt over her shoulder then playacts anger into the pot, inviting an intrigued Horace to join her. Together they scream and act out their anger into the pot.
I pulled this book out when my 3 year old was really mad and we read it together. We hissed, screamed and blew dragon breath into the book to get all the mean out. It was a safe, playful place for him to handle the mean feelings that we threatening to overwhelm his preschooler mind. And I didn’t lose my patience with his emotional outburst.
My 5 year was entranced. So, we immediately read it again. And again. And again. This time with my 15 month old latched on and giggling at us all while we made mean sounds into the book. Mean Soup has turned out to be a go to favorite for my kids.
If I am ever at a loss to use play to handle big emotions, having this book on hand is going to be a useful tool. This is one I’m buying instead of borrowing from the library.
How to Really Love a Child
Activities to create with this book:
- Make the soup described in the book (pot, water, salt, spoons, etc) and act out getting mad at the soup until everyone dissolves into giggles. This one never gets old with the kids. It is a powerful emotion diffuser!
- Stomp around with a grumpy look on your face and state, “I am grumpy parent. I will never eat any soup someone makes for me. No matter how much a nice person tries to make me eat soup. I will not because I am grumpy!” Chances are, you’ll be presented with soup. You can then refuse to eat it even if spoon fed, restating how grumpy you are. Eventually, the child will be able to soften even the grumpiest parent with their Mean Soup.
- When someone is grumpy, I get them in water (as mentioned in the Sark poem.) We made Mean Soup in the bathtub or the shower, using various toys as ingredients and utensils. As mentioned in a previous post, my kids used MeanPinkKangaroo in the soup and reveled in delight as they ate her.
- Get out the crayons and draw a big pot then invite your kids to draw “Mean” ingredients or make giant scribbles all over the page.
- Grab a tissue or a feather and see if you can use your dragon breath to see who can keep them in the air the longest.
Have you read any good books lately? I’d love to hear from you.
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