I take my 5-year-old to school every morning and we are often one of the first to arrive. I like to stick around to watch him play, and I talk to some parents. At the beginning of the school year (such as now), almost every morning I see a child grasping desperately at their mom or dad as they’re left in the schoolyard. It breaks my heart to see that. They’re screaming, crying, trying everything they can to not be left behind by the most important person in their world.
In these moments I’m thankful to my boy for not doing that. Last year he did do it once or twice, briefly, but we got through it together and he went into school with minimal tears.
So, this morning, after watching 3 different kids fall apart as their parents left them, I decided to look into what parents can do. Here’s what I found:
I saw this poster on Facebook and thought it was worth sharing, but as I prepared to re-post it I thought that I’d put my spin on it, because maybe I have some OK enough ideas.
Go outside and kick sometime – preferably a ball so you don’t break anything important, like your foot, or anything else that would mean you need to calm down all over again.
Go outside and run somewhere – best to a place where you can actually return from (instead of a dangerous area). Also, only if you can actually run.
Go into your room and punch your pillow. Close the door first so no one sees you as they may not understand. Also, ensure your pillow isn’t close to anything harder than your fists or you’ll need to calm down all over again when your tiny hand bones crack against the bed frame.
Listen to music that you already know relaxes you, rather than music that gets you pumped up. That means, no angry music, or sad music either. Keep the volume decent because excessive loudness is likely to have the opposite effect.
Close your eyes and imagine a calm place. Try to image the smells, sounds, feelings, tastes as well as how it looks. The more senses you put on it the more effective the visualization will be.
Draw a picture of what’s bothering you, but draw it quickly and with limited effort. Once you’ve done that, crumple it up and throw it away. Then draw something that is not part of what is bothering you. Put more effort into this one, and then show it to someone whom you know will appreciate it. If you go to the wrong person you will probably have a new reason to need calming.
Write a letter to your future self. Tell your future self all the reasons you’re upset right now, and how you got there. When you’re done with that, tell your future self something funny, or silly because later, when your future self (you) reads it they’re going to appreciate your younger self’s humor.
Read a book that you’re into. If you’re not into a book at the moment, read a book that you think you’d like. If you can’t do either, try something else on this list.
Talk to someone whom you know cares about you. Before you start, tell them that you are just letting your feelings out (venting) and that you’re not looking for advice this time. This will prepare them, letting them know how to handle the situation. It’s relieving to be able to let it all out without fear of judgement or correction.
Ask someone whom you know cares about you for a hug. Sometimes the best way to do that is to say, “I need a hug,” and then open your arms to them. It takes a special kind of mean to refuse a hug to someone in need.
A big part of coping with life is having a flexible reaction to the ups and downs. Now, a study which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that people choose to respond differently depending on how intense an emotion is. When confronted with high-intensity negative emotions, they tend to choose to turn their attention away, but with something lower-intensity, they tend to think it over and neutralize the feeling that way.
Emotions are useful—for example, fear tells your body to get ready to escape or fight in a dangerous situation. But emotions can also become problematic – for example, for people with depression who can’t stop thinking about negative thoughts, says Gal Sheppes of Stanford University, who cowrote the study with Stanford colleagues Gaurav Suri and James J. Gross, and Susanne Scheibe of the University of Groningen. “Luckily, our emotions can be adjusted in various ways,” he says.Read More »