We use Molly Bang's, When Sophie Gets Angry -- Really, Really Angry to talk about the things that make us angry and what our plan will be once we do get angry. In the book, Sophie is able to run and run to a special tree which she climbs and climbs until her anger softens. I want to have a full-body, all-senses experience to call up the feeling of anger and then to talk about the things that each of us has that will give us the time and space needed to calm ourselves when we can't run and run or climb and climb.
The first thing we did is read the book, of course, then the children gave me their best angry face. We talk about how even if it was the sister's turn with Gorilla, she did not wait for it to be handed to her. Of course Sophie is angry. THEN, Sophie trips over the truck when her sister snatches it. Of course Sophie is really angry now. As her frustration builds, her feelings reel out of control. Sophie is really, really angry now!
Then we take the ingredients of the anger experiment and we name them and experience them using all the senses. The materials are familiar to any early childhood teacher -- vinegar becomes the bitter feeling we have when things aren't going well, baking soda becomes the tears we shed in frustration and anger, and the red food color becomes the color we see (and sometimes, even feel) when we are frustrated and angry. As adults, we know what these will do when we bring them together! The key is that we are adding a component that is so very helpful in gaining emotional intelligence -- a plan to calm ourselves.
Each child is given a cotton ball -- a soft thing -- that they name and hold as their "soft thing." Sophie has the wide, wide world, running, and climbing as her soft thing and each of our children get to name their own as well. From a stuffed dog to mommy's lap, they name and hold their own individual comforts. When the explosion happens, they put their soft thing into the anger bubbling and frothing over and are amazed to see the anger subside. It does not disappear, of course, anger is an important emotion, but it subsides. We have a plan! Thank you, Molly Bang.