When feelings rush in like a pouncing tiger, grab, and take hold, our kiddos can become overwhelmed in the moment…and in the next, and the next…
Feelings can trigger, surge, and loop, until the whole world seems to stop.
I found the following helped my students “feel through” uncomfortable feelings until the feelings became small and manageable.
We all have our emotional triggers that rush us into fight or flight. It’s what we do next, that counts.
Sit and be with your kiddo. Ask what’s wrong.
Take a breaths in (nose), hold for 5, and breathe out (mouth) for 5. Model first, then encourage your kiddo to breath with you.
Ask why they are upset. Listen. Paraphrase.
Where is the feeling sitting in their body? Ask if the feeling feels as big as a yoga ball, a basketball, or more along the size of a ping pong ball. (The idea is to feel the feeling until it shrinks down to the size of a ping pong ball.
Take another breath in together, hold for 5 and breathe out for 5.
Measure the feeling again. How great is their discomfort yoga ball (we had two in our classroom), basketball, ping pong ball? (We are hoping for ping pong, ultimately.)
Compliment on how well your kiddo was able to cage the pouncing tiger, just by noticing the feelings, breathing through them, and feeling them pass.
Offer reassurances that sharing their feelings with you or their teacher is a positive option.
Praise often for making mindful choices ( feeling feelings and letting them pass).
Anticipate potential triggers: Practice acceptable coping skill choices before the emotions trigger and our tiger pounces:
- Use words to describe the feelings.
- Practice breathing in for 5, holding for 5, and out for 5.
- Ask to move or create: take a walk, run a lap, get a drink of water, or to draw a picture.
- Have a choice to sit quietly and breathe for 2 minutes or 3 minutes before returning to the scheduled classroom or home activity.
Our goal is to bring the pouncing tiger-force feelings down to their real size…allow them to purr for the moment, pet them, and send them off out into the yard.