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.
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.
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