Lesson Two Overview - Take Control
Regulating and Managing Emotional Responses
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL COMPETENCY: Self-Management
Know that anger is normal and okay
Understand that anger can be a positive emotion
Understand how anger can become a problem when we lose control of our emotions
Understand the science behind anger
Understand that our body gives us warning signs or clues to how we are feeling
Understand that there are different levels (or intensities) of anger (feelings thermometer)
Learn strategies to calm big feelings
KEY VOCABULARY: gratitude, grateful, thankful, helpful, high five choices, unhelpful choices, deep breathing, visualization, tense, relax, emotional thermometer, amygdala, prefrontal cortex
Lesson 2 teaches children to first recognise the physiological signs of anger. Children will learn to become aware of the ‘warning signs’ or the ‘clues’ their body gives them to tell them that they are feeling angry. Children will learn that their feelings range in intensity. They will also be introduced to high five choices which are positive strategies to manage emotional responses. Children will learn breathing exercises and visualisation.
We first want to teach our children that they should never feel ashamed of their feelings. There are no good or bad feelings. Anger is not a bad feeling. Nor is worry, fear or sadness. All feelings are normal and okay. We also don’t want to teach children to get rid of anger. There are positive reasons for anger. Anger can provide the energy to right wrongs and change things for the better. Each of our emotions plays an important role in providing us with information. Firstly anger helps us to get our needs met as well as helps us to discover our boundaries. Anger also can help us get things accomplished. We want to teach our children how to manage anger in positive ways. Teaching children how to self-regulate is about teaching them how to acknowledge and express how they are feeling without hurting themselves, their friendships and other people.
It is important to be aware that anger is the only emotion that doesn’t exist on its own. There is always another emotion or root cause that is driving anger. For adults and children alike, anger is often the easiest one to feel and/or deal with compared with emotions such as jealously, fear or guilt. Anger rears its ugly head to stop more difficult and more intense emotions from surfacing such as jealousy, guilt, disappointment, anxiety, fear and rejection.
Introduce Lesson and Review Previous Lesson
Review session 1 by encouraging students to remember what was covered in the last session. Shape students’ responses to reflect the learning intent from the previous lesson. Review group guidelines.
Welcome back! In our last lesson, we talked about the clues or warning signs our body gives us when we experience a range of feelings. It may seem simple but sometimes feelings are not always clear and they can be hard to work out. When we experience strong feelings like anger and fear, we can sometimes lose control. Today we are going to learn all about anger and how we can take control of intense feelings. But first, we are going to begin our lesson with gratitude.
A Gratitude Attitude (5 minutes)
* Skip activity if teaching lessons 1 and 2 together. Introduce gratitude attitude in Session 2 (Lesson 3).
Pose the question: Who can tell me what grateful means?
It means you are thankful for what you have. A gratitude attitude focuses on the NOW! Try to pay attention and be thankful for what you already have and not worry about what you don’t have. People with a gratitude attitude are positive, resilient and happy. I will share what I am grateful for first and then I want you to think of what you are grateful for to share with the group.
Ask each student to share something that either made them smile or something that they are thankful/grateful for. This simple activity is training students to be positive and to have a 'gratitude attitude'.
Activity 1: Anger is Normal and Okay (10 minutes)
Pose the question: Is it okay to feel angry?
Yes, it is okay to feel angry. It is a normal feeling. Everyone experiences feelings of anger from time to time. Anger is not a bad feeling. There are no good or bad feelings. All feelings are okay. It is what we choose to do with our feelings that matters. We are going to learn positive ways of expressing our feelings.
Anger can sometimes be scary and uncomfortable. We don’t want to get rid of anger. We want to learn how to manage our anger so that anger does not become the boss of us. Learning to handle your anger will make you feel calmer and more peaceful. This will make it easier for you to get along with your friends and family. Best of all, you’ll feel better about yourself.
There are good reasons for anger. Anger is a really important feeling. When you become angry, hormones are released in your brain. These hormones cause the changes that you feel in your body. These changes make you more alert and give you extra strength and can be useful if you need to protect yourself or if you need to keep yourself or someone else safe. Anger can also help you to change things for the better and can help you promote change if you think something is unfair.
Discussion points around the positive aspects of anger:
It gives us the courage to defend ourselves or those we love
It motivates us to improve the world by inspiring social action and justice
It warns others not to take advantage of us
It is a powerful survival tool
It is a response to pain (physical and psychological)
It is a source of energy
Can mobilize you to take action
Can motivate you to improve
Can empower you when you are feeling powerless, helpless, scared, or victimized
Can serve as an alarm clock, signalling you that something is wrong
Positive changes have happened in the world because people were angry about injustice and worked together to change things for the better.
Pose the question: Can you think of a time when you used your anger in a positive way?
We are going to learn about a young girl who is leading a global climate movement and using her anger in a positive way.
Activity Two: Anger Starts in Your Brain (10 minutes)
Display poster of the brain
Did you know that anger starts in your brain? The brain has many parts that do all kinds of different jobs. There is the Cerebrum (suh-REE-bruhm) which has the job of helping you think and speak. There is the Cerebellum (Sair-uh-bel-uhm) which has the job of helping your muscles move so you can walk, run and ride a bike. The hippocampus is at the centre of your brain. Its job is to help you store all your memories.
Today we are going to learn about two parts of our brain.
The first part of our brain is our smart brain, also known as the Prefrontal Cortex. It's smart like a wise owl. Our smart brain helps you to make decisions, to plan and to think things through.
The second part of our brain is our emotional brain, also known as the Amygdala (Ah-mig-dah-la). The emotional brain is in charge of sorting out our emotions. It is like a guard dog. Is it there to protect you from danger by getting your body ready for fight and flight.
Have you ever jumped out and said 'boo' to someone? What did they do?
Did they get a fright and look like a statue?
We call this freeze.
Did they run away from you?
We call this flight.
Did they get really mad that you frightened them?
We call this fight.
When our Amygdala, our emotional, brain switches on, our Prefrontal Cortex, our smart brain, switches off. This makes it difficult to make good decisions.
Sometimes when we have really big feelings, our brain thinks we are in danger and our Amygdala, our emotional brain, switches on automatically ready to protect us.
If we are in danger this is helpful. But often we are angry because we haven’t got what we wanted or we feel like we have not been heard, and not because we are in danger. When we are angry we need our smart brain (our Prefrontal Cortex) so that we can make good decisions. Today we are going to learn how to turn on our smart brains so that we make good decisions.
Watch video - Kids Help Line Brain Basics Part 3 Fight Flight and Freeze https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8do0Jiscgsk
Activity Three: The Warning Signs (10 minutes)
In chapter one, we talked about the clues or warning signs our body gives us when we experience different feelings.
Pose the question: Why do you think it is important to pay attention to the clues your body gives you?
If we can listen to the clues or warning signs our body gives when we have different feelings we can learn to better manage them so that we are more in control and less impulsive. This is especially important when we experience really strong feelings like anger.
Pose the question: What clues does your body give you when you are angry?
Examples of Body Clues
Heart beating fast
Lump in throat
Can't sleep well at night
It is important to pay attention and to become more familiar with the clues that our body gives us for different feelings.
I like to think that our body has an imaginary thermometer. At different times our feelings have different levels or intensities. Some feelings we experience are high in intensity, while other feelings are low in intensity.
Pose the question: Can you think of words that describe feelings of really intense anger?
Write answers on board.
Examples: livid, seething, out of control, steaming, raging out of control, furious, irate etc.)
Can you think of words that describe feelings of low intensity?
Write answers on board.
Examples: annoyed, upset, bothered, mad, irritated etc.
When we experience high intense anger, it is a lot harder to think clearly and take control. By becoming familiar with the warning signs our body gives us for different feelings as well as different intensities, we can identify our feelings early while the intensity is low so that we can take steps to control and regulate our anger while they are still manageable. Sometimes our angry intensifies and our emotional thermometer rises very quickly, if this happens to you, it is really important to try and calm your angry feelings at the very first warning sign.
Whenever you’re angry, take a moment to notice the ways your body reacts. Those are your warning signs. Think of them as your own personal “heads-up.” By listening to the clues your body gives you, you are able to identify these feelings before your feelings rage out of control.
Together, discuss the warning signs they get when they are feeling out of control, angry, upset, annoyed and calm. Write answers around the Emotional Thermonitor Printout.
Pose the question: Can you think of the warning signs your body gives you when you are:
Out of control? (E.g. yelling, hitting, screaming, punching)
Angry? (E.g. clenched fist)
Upset? (E.g. voice getting louder)
Annoyed? (E.g. Sigh loudly, growl, your thoughts)
It is much harder to calm angry feelings when your Feelings Thermometer rises and your anger is intense. Sometimes our emotional thermometer rises very quickly, if this happens to you, it is really important to try and calm your angry feelings at the very first warning sign.
Activity Four: Emotional Thermometer (10 minutes)
When anger is not managed properly all sorts of problems can happen. What could happen if anger is allowed to rage out of control?
Allow time to respond.
Sometimes, we might experience strong emotions that are high in intensity. I like to think that our bodies have their own feelings thermometer which measures the intensity of our feelings.
Display Get GRIT’s Feelings thermometer.
Pose the question: If you had an imaginary feelings thermometer, how would you rate how you are feeling right now? Are you on the bottom of the Feelings Thermometer and feeling great? Or are you at the top of the Feelings Thermometer and feeling out of control? I hope not!
Some feelings we experience are high in intensity. When our feelings thermometer is really high, you may find it harder to think clearly and take control of your feelings. You may feel like your anger has raged out of control.
Has anyone ever felt like this before? What happened?
By listening to the clues your body gives you, you are able to identify these feelings before your feelings rage out of control. It is much harder to calm angry feelings when your Feelings Thermometer rises and your anger intensifies. Sometimes our angry intensifies and our emotional thermometer rises very quickly, if this happens to you, it is really important to try and calm your angry feelings at the very first warning sign.
Using the Feelings Thermometer, students discuss the warning signs their bodies give them at each level on the thermometer and how their body clues change as their anger intensifies. Explain to the students that their warning signs may be different to one another. They may experience a flushed face, shaky hands, sick stomach, clenched fists, narrow eyes, clenched teeth, stomping etc and that their warning signs may become more obvious as their Feeling Thermometer rises.
Our body gives us clues or warning signs to how we are feeling. Learning to identify the signs will help you to regulate your emotions. When you are feeling angry, remember that you have the power over your body to relax and gain control. Listen to your body and when you recognise the warning signs, make a high five choice. What is a high five choice? Let’s find out.
Activity Five: Introduce High Five Choices (15 minutes)
Draw an outline of a hand on the whiteboard.
Remember all feelings are OK, it’s what we choose to do with our feelings that is important. We can choose to make a high five choice. What is a High Five choice? High Five choices are positive ways of expressing our feelings. High Five choices don’t involve hurting ourselves or hurting other people whether it be with our words or actions. It is harder to make a high five choice when we are experiencing strong emotions as our prefrontal cortex is offline.
Ask the students to think of high five choices that they can make when they are feeling angry, Write answers on the hand on the whiteboard. It may time out in our bedrooms, patting an animal, running around the backyard, jumping on the trampoline, punching a pillow, crying, listening to music etc. Remind students that a high five choice does not hurt themselves or anyone else. High five choices will help them to calm angry feelings.
We are going to practice some High Five choices today. But first, to help you remember your high five
choices, we are going to make a High Five Chatterbox.
The aim of this activity is to teach students how to regulate and manage strong emotions. Explain to the children that we will be practising some high five choices.
High Five Chatterbox Instructions.
1. Cut out the High Five Chatterbox and turn it face down
2. Fold each corner towards the centre so that the numbers and colours are facing you
3. Turn it over and again fold each corner into the centre that the colour names are visible
4. Fold it in half so that the colour names are touching and the numbers are on the outside. Now open it and fold it in half the other way.
5. Inset your thumb and first finger of each hand (pinching motion) under the number flaps.
6. Close the chatterbox so only the numbers show.
Activity Six: High Five Choices (15 minutes)
We are going to practise some high five choices that are in our chatterboxes.
Ask students to stand up.
We are going to learn a simple breathing techniques that most athletes use. Many athletes practise this technique before they start a race or their game. Slow deep breathing reduces your heart rate and is the fastest most effective way to calm your amygdala and get your prefrontal cortex back online. Tensing and relaxing your muscles release endorphins which are natural chemicals produced in our body. These endorphins are realised into your bloodstream, relaxing your mind and body so that you can think clearly and sharply.
Step 1. Take 10 very slow, deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try not to get distracted by things happening around you.
Step 2 – Gradually tense the muscles in your body and count to 10. Starting at 1 slowly tense your muscles so that once you are at 10 your muscles are as tense as you can get.
Step 3 – Shake your legs and your arms slowly. Move your head from side to side. Feel the tension leave your body.
Stretch and Breathe
In yoga, you learn to stretch and move your body while thinking about your breathing. This can help relax your body and mind by releasing tension in your body and relaxing your mind. We are going to learn 5 yoga poses that will help your body and mind to relax.
The Ragdoll Pose
Stand up tall. Take two belly breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth
Breathe in and lift your arms above your head. As you breathe out slowly bring your arms down to the ground.
Stand up straight and tall like a tree with your hands by your side. Stretch your legs toward the ground and your head toward the sky. Take a deep belly breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Pick a spot in front of you to help you keep your balance and to help you concentrate. Lift your right leg and put it on your left leg (above or below the knee). Now imagine tree roots growing into the ground from your left leg making your leg really strong like a tree trunk. Stretch your arms out like a branch. If you start to fall, don’t worry!
Sit up tall on the floor and place the soles of your feet together holding on to your feet or ankles. Let your knees drop to the floor. Take a deep belly breath in and out while imagining that you are a butterfly.
Place your hands on your belly while lying on your back. Take a deep belly breath in and as you breathe out, point your toes and squeeze your legs together. Push yourself up on your elbows keeping your palms flat on the floor. Next, lift your chest as if you were a fish jumping out of the water. Let your head rest a little on the floor. Breathe in and out and slowly come back to the ground.
Stand up tall with a straight back
Take a deep belly breath in and stretch your arms out.
Take another belly breath in and lift your leg up so you are balancing on one leg.
Keep your arms stretched to the side to help you with your balance.
Guided imagery techniques can relax and calm our body and mind by distracting and redirecting our attention away from what is stressful. Today we are going to think about your favourite things or your favourite place to be. Sometimes just thinking about a place where we feel happy and relaxed can calm angry and worried feelings. As we begin, close your eyes and take a deep belly breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you continue breathing slow, deep breathes, think of one of your favourite places to go. It can be anywhere – outside, inside, near us or far away. It may be somewhere you have been many times, or somewhere you have only been once. Imagine yourself in your favourite place feeling calm and relaxed, What does it look like? What can you notice about it? Does it have any certain sounds? It is a loud place or a quiet place? Do you notice any smells there? Try to think about everything you can notice. Now, focus on how this place makes you feel. Does it make you feel calm? Happy? Excited? Something else? Really think about this feeling. Continue to breathe slowly and focus on the feeling it is giving you. When you are finished, take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth and then slowly open your eyes.
Activity Seven: Massage (5 minutes)
Another technique that many athletes use is sports massage. Massage relaxes your body and helps you to feel calm again. You can always ask a family member to give you a massage or if you see someone in your family feeling angry or worried, you can offer to give them a massage.
Knead the pizza. Squeeze your partner’s shoulders gently.
Roll out the dough. Roll hands up and down your partner’s back.
Add tomato sauce. Rub your hands in a circle.
Grate the cheese. Gently claw down your partner’s back.
Chop up the ham and add the ham to the pizza. Gently chop up and down your partner’s back.
Add ingredients to your liking! Tap your partner’s back.
Sprinkle the cheese. Use the tips of your fingers to tap your partner’s back.
Cut your pizza in slices. It is now ready to eat! Enjoy! Using your hands imagine slicing the pizza.
Remember, all feelings are OK, there are no wrong or right feelings and you should never feel ashamed of your feelings. When we are in control of our feelings we are in a better position to make positive decisions. Today, we practised positive strategies like breathing, massage, yoga and visualisation. This week, if you are feeling angry, try and make a high five choice.
Close the session: Thank the group for their participation throughout the session. Encourage them to practice the new skills they learned during the week. Share with the group an exciting activity that they will do during the next GRIT lesson.