Exploring Emotions Using "Anh's Anger" and Art

The Bugs class (ages 2 and 3) read Anh's Anger by Gail Silver which was donated to the school by one of our co-oping families. They use the book to explore the question, “Do you control your anger or does it control you?”  Anh is startled by how strong and scary his anger can be but he learns to sit with it, calm it and take control.  This was a very powerful book for the Bugs class as many of our young three year olds are learning first hand how powerful their anger can be. I explained that part of being three is learning to deal with all of your emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, and disappointment...  Anger can be one of the hardest.  As a class we talked about triggers for anger (hunger, being tired, transitions...) and coping mechanisms such as going to your room, stomping feet, punching pillows and breathing deeply.  When out in public you can't go to your room but you can stomp (a bit) and breathe deeply!!  Anger is a normal emotion that we all experience.  The key is learning to manage it. After reading the book (both Thursday and Friday - by request) we used permanent markers to draw anger - what it feels and looks like.  Not everyone had a lot of anger and no two works look the same.  Sometimes anger is busy, sometimes small, sometimes chaotic, sometimes controlled. [gallery orderby="post_date"]

Next the children painted.  In the book, Anh's anger was illustrated using bold colors: red, orange, green, blue, pink, black and white.  The Bugs chose one or two colors to help depict their anger.  Some painted only part of the page others covered the whole paper with bright color. Everyone put a lot of time and effort into this one - it was obviously very important to everyone to "capture it" and "control it."

Dealing with emotions (all emotions) is a big topic and one that needs revisiting often for young children. We will circle back to this more before the year is done and continue to identify triggers and calming mechanisms. Remember to name the action:  you are kicking, hitting, screaming...  Address the emotion behind it: you seem angry, frustrated, disappointed...  and help model an appropriate response:  lets take a deep breath and talk about it.  You can say I am frustrated that it is clean up time/that I can't do it by myself/that I have to wait or I am angry because Billy won't share/took my toy/doesn't want to play my game...  Find a solution: this step needs verbal communication and usually works best when things calm down a bit.  Some examples include setting time limits, finding alternate toys, establishing boundaries/personal space, and respecting others and ourselves.

As parents please be patient and understanding because emotions can feel overwhelming for young children and they need help figuring it all out.