In this installment of our series of one page guides for helping children to deal with difficult emotions, we look at helping children to deal with Anxiety. Click here or on the picture above for a pdf version of this graphic.For more awesome resources for learning about and dealing with emotions, please visit our Hope 4 Hurting Kids Emotions Help Center.
The Rise of Cohabitation
On August 16th, 2011, the 3rd edition, in their Why Marriage Matters (a joint publication of The National Marriage Project and The Center for Marriage and Families) was released. This report subtitled, “Thirty Conclusions from the Social Sciences,” puts most of its focus on the issue of cohabitation. The report starts with a startling observation:
Today, the rise of cohabiting households with children is the largest unrecognized threat to the quality and stability of children’s family lives.
The report explains that cohabitation has seen an unprecedented fourteen-fold increase since 1970. A child today is more likely to spend time in a cohabiting household than experience their parents’ divorce as reflected in the following chart:
I have worked with children of divorce for over thirty years and all around the country. I started out on the West Coast in the 1970s, moved to mid American in the 80s and 90s, and then to the East Coast beginning in 2002. I’ve heard some conversations that would curl your hair. I’ve also heard stories of tenderness and tales of heartbreak. Sharing these personal stories of children of divorce helps us all to get inside of their hearts and minds so that we may serve them better. Part of our mission at Hope 4 Hurting Kids is to help those who work with children to better understand the child of divorce. Understanding what is going on in their minds and their hearts is a big part of that mission.
Children are children! They run, and they play. They fall down. They get bumps, bruises and scrapes. They get mad, and they experience sadness. They express joy and happiness over silly child-like things. Unlike a child from most two-parent homes, the child of divorce often times finds herself running from the family. They are playing out their frustrations. The bumps, bruises and scrapes are on their hearts. Their anger goes deeper than it should, and the sadness is overwhelming. Many times their joy and happiness are pushed aside as they observe and protect the feelings of their parents.
Several times I have asked children of divorce,
If you had a chance to tell your parents, and other adults something about divorce, what would you say?
I’m excited to announce a special opportunity from Hope 4 Hurting Kids to win free tickets to the Third Annual CM Conference hosted by CM Connect and Kidz Blitz! in Louisville, Kentucky on February 20-23, 2017. Read on to learn how to win, but first let me tell you a little bit about this amazing conference.
About CM Conference
I have been to every CM Conference from CM Connect since the very first one. The team at CM Connect is dedicated to putting on a conference that offers all of the great training of the “big boys” at a much more affordable price. When I was asked once to explain what makes CM Conference different, it wasn’t hard to pinpoint:
This is what a children’s ministry conference would look like if it were put together by children’s ministers. It is equal parts challenging, in depth-learning, rejuvenating corporate worship, valuable networking and a refreshing gathering of friends. From top to bottom, it is clear in everything about the conference, this event is about serving those called to children’s ministry.”
It’s important to teach kids ways that they can calm down when they are angry or anxious or stressed out. In the heat of overwhelming emotions though, it’s easy for kids to forget the methods you have taught them. That’s why if you work with kids, it useful to have a jar full of cool down cubes, and it’s simple too!
- Just buy some plastic ice cubes. I got mine from Five Below after the Fourth of July.
- Write various calm down techniques on the cubes (one per cube). Permanent marker works best. We’ve included a list of the techniques we put on the cubes below.
- Put the cubes in a jar. We used an old peanut jar, but anything large enough that a child can reach their hand in will work. Decorate the jar however you want.
- Whenever the child you are working with upset, encourage them to go to the Calm Down Jar, pick one cube out and use the technique on the cube to calm down. If that doesn’t work encourage them to pick another cube.
- Feel free to engage in the activity with the child, and when they have calmed down use the opportunity to talk about what’s bothering them.
Here are some of the calm down techniques we put on our cubes (feel free to make up your own):
- Go for walk
- Do a puzzle
- Throw ball
- Blow off steam
- Ride a bike
- Close eyes
- Write it down
- Talk it out
- Count to ten
- Use computer
- Call a friend
- Play with sand
- Ask for help
- Jump rope
- Tell someone
- Walk away
- Play a sport
- Go outside
- 3 deep breaths
- Stop and think
- Tell a joke
- Hug a pet
- Blow bubbles
- One happy memory
- Positive self talk
- Stress ball
- Read a book
- Seek out help
- Mold clay
- Play memory
- Count clouds
- Play with legos
- Drink water
- Take a timeout
- Talk to a friend
Yesterday was January 15th. On that date, in 1944, my mother was born in Pennsylvania. In 1967, she married my Dad and became Jeanne Stocks. I was born five years later, the third of four boys. My Mom would have been 70 years old yesterday. God had other plans though, and my mother died on September 8, 1978 at the young age of 34 less than six months after my younger brother was born and two weeks after I turned six years old. I know now that she had been sick for several months leading up to her death, but at the time that never registered in my young mind.
It was, as far as I knew at the time, just like any other regular Friday. I woke up and rode the bus to my first grade class at Bass Hoover Elementary School in Stephens City, Virginia. That afternoon, I rode the bus home totally unaware of how my life was about to be forever altered. When my older brothers and I arrived home, the door was locked. That was unusual, but at six it seemed more like an adventure than a problem. We walked across the street of our quiet little neighborhood to the Miller’s house. They were an older couple who treated us like grandkids. Mr. Miller was a volunteer fireman with a model train set in his basement. He was one of my favorite people. I fondly recall all the hours I spent at the Miller’s house.
When we explained the situation, the Miller’s called my Dad at work to let him know what was going on. Years later I would find out that he knew exactly what he was going to find when he got home. My mother had relayed a story to him years earlier about someone in her family who had passed away when she was younger (it may have been her mother, but I do not recall), and she (and her sisters I believe) found the body when they got home. She had told my Dad that she had always wished that they would have, at least, locked the door so the kids couldn’t get in and find the body. When he heard from the neighbors that the door was locked, combined with knowledge of all the health issues from the preceding months, he knew what he would find when he came home. He asked that the neighbors keep us at their house for a while. As a husband myself now, and father to four kids, I can only imagine what he must have been going through.
The Miller’s were wonderful hosts, but the time seemed to drag on and on for me. It’s scary as a kid not knowing what is going on. After what seemed like an eternity, my father came and collected us and took us back over to the house. I vividly remember walking into the master bedroom and sitting on the edge of the bed with my father and my brothers. Even at six years old, the air felt very heavy. My father, no doubt reeling from the day’s events himself, calmly explained to us that our Mom was gone in the best words he could find to use. He asked if any of us had any questions. I remember asking something, but I couldn’t tell you to this day what it was.
There is not doubt that families are changing. In his article 5 Facts You Need to Know About American Families, Dale Hudson shares five statistics about how families have changed and offers advice on how to make sure your church is relevant to today’s families.
Questions for Further Reflection or Discussion
Welcome to our new series of one page guides for helping children to deal with difficult emotions. In this first installment, we look at dealing with Anger. Click here or on the picture above for a pdf version of this graphic.For more awesome resources for learning about and dealing with emotions, please visit our Hope 4 Hurting Kids Emotions Help Center.
Stress is a huge issue for all kids in our society today. The levels of stress amongst children from disrupted homes though is through the roof. Dealing with things like fighting parents, complex schedules, new homes, new family members, stressed out parents, packed schedules and so much more can leave kids and teens from disrupted homes with lots a stress and little time. One simple solution which works amazing well with younger kids (though you may be surprised how well it can work with older kids too) is a simple container of bubbles. Here are a couple of ideas of how to use bubbles to help kids deal with stress.
Visualization With Bubbles
Bubbles are a great way to help kids visualize their emotions. Whether they are experiencing anger, stress, fear or other emotions, encourage the children to visualize each bubble as a negative emotion and watch it float away. Talk about the things that are stressing them out and encourage them to release those things in the bubbles as they float away. For younger children, allow them to stomp on the bubbles as they land on the ground. In addition to being a good visual reminder of letting things go rather than keeping them buried inside, the process of blowing the bubbles also encourages deep breathing.
Bubble Karate Master
The word “peanuts” has become something of a “dirty word” for people who work with kids. In this article, we’re going to talk about how a simple peanut based exercise can help kids to calm down. Whether they’re anxious, stressed out or angry, the Peanut Brittle to Peanut Butter relaxation technique is a fun way for kids to remember how to calm down.
Here’s how it works:
- Have the child inhale and stiffen their body like PEANUT BRITTLE. Encourage them to squeeze their muscles, clench their fists, curl their toes, push their chest out and contract the muscles in their face.
- Have them hold their breath and that position for five seconds.
- Now, tell them to exhale their breath and let everything go soft like PEANUT BUTTER.
- Repeat as neccessary.
Like deep breathing, the process of going from tense to relaxed helps kids to let go of the intense emotions they are feeling.