Monday, June 29, 2009
So I've been reading (really, studying) the Spirited Child handbook in the last few months (which I think has helped a lot - mostly me). I put something from that book into practice today with a lot of success. It's not often that something actually "works" over a very short period of time - I was so pleased with the technique that I wanted to write it down. Will can be very intense and really work himself up in a frenzy. One of the suggestions of the SC book is to give children alternative outlets for their feelings, particularly anger, instead of not allowing them to feel/be angry.
So this morning Will was all upset because I wouldn't let him wear his Spiderman costume to school. "But I have to save people," he argues. I tell him that if the costume is going to make him disagreeable that's not very super-hero like and I'll have to take the costume away until he's ready to act nicely (if the costume makes you have bad behavior then the costume is going to need to be put away yadda yadda). So then he tells me that he's very angry with me (which I think is a good step - that he's saying that versus just having a complete hissy fit).
I told him that it was okay for him to be angry with me; I understood that and I felt angry sometimes too. Then I asked him (this is from the book) if he'd like to draw a picture of how angry he felt. He said that yes he would so up we went to get the markers and paper out and he plopped himself down and began to draw. He started with black. Then he got yellow, red and after that pink. About this time Kevin came home from running and asked him what he was drawing. He tells Kevin very matter of factly that he's angry with me for not letting him wear his Spiderman costume and so he's drawing a picture of fire burning me up (maybe I was the pink?). Kevin, of course, is pretty taken aback but in typical Kevin fashion he keeps his cool and doesn't really react to it (I later explained the technique to him). He showed Kevin the fire and the black (which he said was the smoke) burning me up.
In the car on the way to school he was still angry with me (according to him) but when I picked him up from school and we got into the car he said to me right away, "Mommy, I'm not angry with you anymore" (I hadn't asked - I had just acted normally when I picked him up; he brought it up specifically).
Here's a picture of the drawing he made. It's a pretty obviously "angry" image - but I thought it was pretty cool that he could get his anger out that way (versus having a fit, hitting something or someone, or even just yelling). So I got fictionally burned up in the process. As my book suggests, parenting should be about progress, not perfection :-)