Who said boys shouldn’t be able to express their feelings? Who said they should hold them up tight and ignore them? Who said they can’t cry or punch a pillow? Who said that they should wait until they are overflowing with emotion to let it all go?
I can’t answer any of these questions, but I sure can help my 2nd graders learn to recognize our different feelings, how those feelings feel inside our bodies, and how to release them in an effective way.
I got a lot of these ideas from Puzzle Pieces and tweaked them to fit with my classes. This is the WHOLE unit I did, so there is a lot of information here, but I wanted you to see how the pieces fit together.
A Pile of Mixed Feelings
Topics Covered: Interpersonal Effectiveness, Communication Skills, Responsible Behaviors
Character Skills: Fairness, Responsibility, Cooperation
Dealing with Sad Feelings
Talk about murky and clear thinking
Murky thinking is like swimming in a lake, you can’t see the bottom. It’s a little bit scary and doesn’t make us feel too good.
Clear thinking is like swimming in a pool. We can see the bottom clearly. So we feel comfortable to have fun.
Read a short story about how someone might have dealt with sad feelings in a murky way.
Puzzle Pieces provides you with a story called “Angie’s Story.”
In the story, Angie was CHOOSING to think in a murky way. Angie’s day was going fine until her friends decided to be mean to her. Then her day got messed up because she was sad. Because of her murky thinking, Angie remained sad, she chose to focus on the problem and not a solution.
Now read a story about someone who dealt with their sad feelings in a clear way.
Puzzle Pieces gives you “Tomika’s Story.”
Tomika was thinking in a clear way. Because of the way Tomika was feeling, the problem didn’t ruin her whole day. The problem is still there, but she chooses to do other things to get her mind off the problem, so she can have a good day despite her sad feelings.
There are MANY short stories out there that illustrate this point.
Decide if the following sentences are clear or murky thinking. Give a thumbs up for clear and a thumbs down for murky.
- I’ll never learn to tell time.
- Even though tennis is hard, I’m trying my best.
- This is too hard for me. Today is just not my day.
- Nobody likes me.
- I have a few really good friends to play with.
- My brother might be smarter than me, but our parents love us just the same.
Remind them that they get to choose whether to have murky or clear thinking.Will they chose to let one small thing ruin their whole day?
We finished the lesson by completing the page provided to me by Puzzle Pieces.
Dealing With Worry
Ask students if they have ever felt sick, but went to the nurse, or talked to their parents and they say they aren’t sick.
Talk about being worried.
Tell them that sometimes our bodies can feel sick if we hold our worried feelings inside. Identify where we might feel these feelings:
- stomach aches
- being tired
Worry is hard to describe, because it’s different for everyone. Worry is a feeling that comes when you think about something and picture something bad that might happen.
- thinking about falling when you are about to shoot a goal in soccer
- thinking that no one at school likes you and so you will have no one to play with a recess
- thinking that you cannot learn the new lesson in math
- wondering if you’ll ever be able to read like everyone else in class
Share what has worried us in the past.
Talk about the 3 ways to get rid of our worry.
- Talk to someone you trust (who could that be?)
- Say positive things to yourself
- Do something you enjoy
Last, we created worry bees that helped the boys identify something that worries them and what they can do when they feel worried.
What Bugs You?
This is a great lesson for boys because a lot bothers them and that is the one feeling they aren’t afraid to hold back . . . annoyance and frustration. Most fights and disagreements in my school happen because someone keeps “bothering” someone else and they current lack strategies for dealing with it.
Talk about feelings that bug us.
Knowing these feelings bug us, what do we think bug feeling means?
Read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.
- Listen for bug feelings
- What made him feel this way?
Help them being to see triggers for bug feelings. They must understand that in order to fix a bug feeling they have to first know what is causing it, because things often pile up and then we explode.
Have the class circle up.
Pass ball around the circle and share something that bugs them. The person sharing shouldn’t say the feeling word, just pose a situation. Have the other boys recognize what feeling goes with their bug.
Discuss how we can have multiple bug feelings at one time, just like Alexander.
We finished the lesson by completing the Mixed Bugs Sheet provided by Puzzle Pieces.
Bugs Inside Us
To review our bug feelings, I had the boys complete the “Bug Feelings Really Bother Us” activity sheet.
Review what happens if we hold our bug feeling inside.
We start to feel bad. But where?
Have the boys decide where each “bug” symptom belongs and which bug feeling makes you feel that symptom. Some of the symptoms you might include are:
- Throbbing head
- Heavy eyes
- Face on fire
- Clenched jaw
- Knot in chest
- Sweaty Palms
- Tight Fists
- Butterflies in your stomach
I used these and a few more that I hear complained about often.
We finished by making the symptom sheet individualized. The boys recognized where they feel each bug feeling the most. This will help them identify whether they need to “de-bug” or if they are actually sick.
How to De-Bug
During our last lesson of the unit, we talked about how to get our mad, sad, worried, nervous, and scared thoughts to go away. We call this de-bugging.
First we have to talk about our 3 de-bugging rules. These should look familiar to the rules about releasing anger.
- I will not hurt myself.
- I will not hurt property.
- I will not hurt others.
Knowing those rules, we are going to think of lots of ways to de-bug. We placed our ways to de-bug in a book. The boys would label the top of the page with the de-bug strategy and then draw a picture to remind them what to do.
De-Bug #1: Squeezing
- To release unpleasant feelings we can squeeze a pillow or clay.
- We can even hit clay on the floor or desk.
- What other things can we squeeze?
- What bug feeling would squeezing let out?
De-Bug #2: Drawing
- Drawing helps calm our minds and think of happier thoughts.
- Even coloring books help calm ourselves down.
- Where could you draw?
- What bug feeling would drawing let out?
De-Bug #3: Chill Time
- Chill time keeps us from doing or saying something we might regret later
- Chill time lets us stop, think, and then act. During chill time, we keep our body still and our mind busy.
- We do deep breaths and count to 10 slowly.
- Then, we can think if we should say or do what we wanted to before chill time.
- What bug feeling would chill time help let out?
De-Bug #4: Physical Activity
- Some bug feelings build energy inside of us.
- What bug feelings might do this?
- When we do something with our bodies, we let out some of the energy that a bug feeling gave us.
- What are some activities we could do?
De-Bug #5: Writing
- Sometimes we want our feeling to be private. But we know we can’t keep our bug feelings in, we have to get them out.
- Writing helps us get our bug feelings out and still allows them to be private. We can even write our feelings down and then crumple our paper up and throw it away!
- You are just writing your thoughts down as they come to your head. You don’t have to worry about if it makes sense, you just write.
De-Bug #6: Thinking Positive Thoughts
- What we think, makes us feel a certain way, and how we feel makes us act a certain way.
- If we think only positive (good) thoughts, then we make ourselves feel good, and we act in a happier way.
Do you think these lesson could be helpful with your students? Especially co-ed schools . . . .