Toni was a 1st grade student in my class last year. My first day in the class, Toni let me know that she felt too old and cool for this stuff. She typically refused to participate in any of the sharing or song singing. As the year went on I noticed her guard drop from time to time. She would decide she wanted a hug goodbye or I might catch her role playing with another student.
Near the end of the year I went to Toni’s school to eat lunch with her class as a reward for their good behavior. While we were all playing outside for recess I noticed Toni kicking some rocks with her hands held in fists. I went over to talk to her and she told me, “I want to hit Quentin with these rocks. He won’t give me a turn on the swings.” I asked her if she remembered the different calming down techniques that we worked on in class.
“Yes,” she answered. “I can take a deep breath, count backwards, talk to myself, or think calm thoughts.”
“Yep! Which one of those would you like to try?”
And to my surprise she replied, “Belly breaths.”
Toni then proceeded to put her hands on her stomach and take three deep breaths instead of throwing rocks at Quentin. She changed her habit on that day and opted instead to calm down and think before acting out. I was so impressed to watch “too cool” Toni make a deliberate choice not to let her anger control her actions.
-Aleza Berube, Guest Blogger Aleza is a Prevention Educator with LifeWorks. The majority of her time is spent teaching elementary age children social & emotional skills (identifying feelings, how to calm down, and how to solve problems). Visit the Next Step page for more info on the program.