When Nia was four years old she had a full-blown temper tantrum. Her baby sister wouldn’t share a toy with her so Nia threw her head back and yelled at the top of her lungs.
She stood up and stomped her foot on the ground.
And she started throwing things all over the room!
Nia was soooooo mad!
She was so mad that she wanted to hit her sister. She balled her fists and, with a sour scowl, walked over to her sister.
That is when mommy stopped her.
“Nia! What are you doing?”
Nia stopped in her tracks and started to cry. “I’m sorry! I don’t know why but sometimes I get so mad!”
“Everyone gets mad, that’s normal. Why don’t you tell me what it feels like for you?”
Nia nodded and wiped her eyes. “OK. It feels like I have a little cup in my chest. And when things happened that I don’t like it gets filled with more and more mad. The mad just keeps getting higher and higher until the mad spills out all over the place!!!”
Mommy nodded. “Well, that’s a very smart way to look at it. But hitting someone is never a good way to fix your problem. What else could you have done?”
“I could’ve waited until she was done.
I could’ve played with something else.
I could’ve asked her if I could play with it.”
Mommy nodded again. “Very good. Now let’s see if we can come up with some ideas for that cup of mad inside you. When you feel yourself start to get mad… what can we do?”
Nia thought for a while. “The cup of mad is probably hot, like your tea. Maybe I need to blow on it to cool it down? Or maybe take a walk? Or if the cup is too full – I could empty it out a little bit?”
“Oh Nia!” Mom shouted happily, “Those are all excellent ideas! You said to blow on it to cool it down. Did you know that controlling your breathing is a fantastic way to calm yourself down?”
“Next you said to take a walk. Taking a walk is a great stress reliever. And you will think more clearly when you are not stressed.”
“And lastly, if you have too much mad in that cup – emptying out a little is wonderful idea! Anger is a form of energy. Pour some of that energy into running, painting, dancing, or anything! And turn that negative energy into positive energy! Honey, I’m so proud of you for solving that on your own!”
“Mommy,” Nia said, “Thank you. Now my cup is spilling over – but this time it’s with happy.”