It’s important to remember that tiny humans have emotions too! Lower elementary students have been learning vocabulary words that describe what they are feeling in their bodies. This is a continuous process as emotions are complicated and a part of our daily life. We looked at one of the most studied and maybe most misunderstood: anger!
Anger is often described as a secondary emotion: an emotion that is fueled by other emotions. We default to anger when a threat is perceived, and our defenses have been breached. Oftentimes, if we peel back the layers of anger, we will find jealousy, hurt, or even vulnerability. Needless to say, when our children show anger it’s hard to tell what the underlying emotion is, especially when the brain is in flight or fight mode.
Kindergarten worked to identify what anger looks like, situations in which they felt angry and more importantly, ways to cope. Each student was given a face to draw their best angry face and describe one thing that makes them angry. Some of their reasons included: being told they could not have something, having to stop playtime, their siblings being mean and being made fun of by others. If we look at each of these, we can identify other feelings attached to each: struggles with respecting boundaries, self-regulation, rejection and feelings of inadequacy.
One technique we practised in class was ‘Rainbow Breathing;” this encourages them to stop and take deep breaths like they are painting the colors of the rainbow with their arms. After they have slowed down their breaths, they can better label their feelings and problem-solve the best solution.
Elementary/ Middle School Counselor