"Mom, how does the Tooth Fairy fly through the air?"
"How do YOU think?"
"I think moms do it."
"But how can a Mom be a Tooth Fairy?"
"Good moms are lots of things, Princess."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What's Sneaking Around Behind Your Anger?

Yesterday evening I walked in the house and was greeted by the pleasant sound of all four children playing a game together. I foolishly commented to Josh how nice it was hear them playing cooperatively when a fight broke out. I could hear Princess complaining about something and, having played with her before, had a good idea what it was without even being in the same room. The game was too difficult for the Cuddle Bear, so Buddy was helping her, which causes Princess to "not win." Princess has high anxiety and is very competitive. That mixed with things in general being harder for her than for the other children makes a dangerous soup. Withing seconds, it escalated to Princess tossing her emotional cookies around the room: roaring, wailing, threatening, and throwing of the game pieces. I removed Princess from the room. It was about bedtime anyway, so I walked her loud, flailing self up the stairs. She wriggled around like a buttered snake, making it impossible to stuff her into pajamas, so I rolled her in her comforter and laid down next to her while she scratched, kicked, and pinched me while wailing, "I want pajamas" at the top of her lungs. She's an excellent multi-tasker.

Only very, very recently have we started to try to help her process what went wrong in these situations, and Josh has always been much, much better at this than I. But yesterday Christine posted an excellent video on talking children through their feelings. This morning I grabbed my handy "Managing Your Anger" chart and sat down with Princess.

"Princess, remember back to that game last night? Buddy was helping the Cuddle Bear because the game was to hard for her. You weren't winning. You acted very, very angry. You looked kind of like this (pointing to the middle "angry" face). But, you know what? There was a bigger feeling, too. It was being really sneaky. It was trying to hide behind the angry so we couldn't see it. It was one of these (pointing to the faces in the circle around "angry"). Which one was it?" Princess pointed right at the "jealous" face and said, "jealous."

"Aaaah. You felt jealous. You felt jealous that the Cuddle Bear was winning. You felt jealous that Buddy was helping her play. You wished Buddy would help you instead because you wanted to win." This was probably as far as she heard, but I went on for good measure: "but you can be proud of you even though you didn't win. This game used to be hard for you, but now you understand what your eyes are seeing, and you can find the pictures yourself, without help."

But anyway, wow! Wow wow wowie wow wow! This is a child who never ever NEVER tells the truth about how she's feeling. EVER. And this is the third time in the past month that she's opened up a little. It's always exciting around here, I tell you!


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  2. Hey, that Managing Your Anger chart sounds pretty good! Where'd you find yours (please don't tell me you made it)? Way to go Princess for pinpointing your feelings!

  3. No, the therapist gave me this one; it came from Creative Therapy Associates. I'd bet money you've seen one before.