Supporting our Cloverbud Youth during Challenging Times

In today’s world there are many tragic events, from gun violence to natural disasters, to which children are exposed on a regular basis. It is important as we get into the busy summer season that we serve as caring adult role models for Cloverbud participants. In doing so, we provide a safe, supportive environment for them.

The main purpose of this Cloverbud Connections article is to share about how to support healthy interaction with Cloverbuds. Talking with Cloverbud members can be difficult with not knowing what to say or how to be supportive. There is helpful guidance from the National Council on Family Relations (Myers-Wall, 2022) and KidsHealth (Walls, 2022).

Suggestions for supporting Cloverbuds include:

  • Help the children feel and know they are safe. Reassure them that you are here to support and care for them.
  • Make time to talk and to share about what they are feeling. Let their questions, if they have any, guide the interactions.
  • Use various expressive outlets and Cloverbud activities for them to express themselves such as music, art, movement, puppets, and play.
  • Cloverbud children may express a desire to help those hurting or experiencing pain. Support them with writing letters of care, gathering donations, or ideas they may have.
  • Know that Cloverbud age children may have a wide range of emotions from sadness to empathy. Let them express themselves as needed. It is okay to not to know the answers to all their questions. Listening and being there for them is just as important as what you say.

As a 4-H Cloverbud Volunteer, remember to take care of yourself. Know that your Extension professional is always available for your support.

 

Myers-Walls, J. A. (2022). Talking with children when the talking gets tough. Coping in the Wake of Shootings, Mass Violence, and Terrorism. National Council on Family Relations. https://www.ncfr.org/resources/resource-collections/coping-wake-shootings-mass-violence-and-terrorism

Walls, M. T. (2022). How to talk to your child about the news. KidsHealth. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/news.html

Cloverbuds and Social Emotional Learning: Now and for the Future

Youth’s social and emotional learning (SEL) skills are receiving increased attention, especially because of concerns about a loss of socialization opportunities during the coronavirus pandemic and overarching concerns about youth mental health. Social skills cannot be learned by reading about them in a book – they must be learned by doing, in situations where you interact with others, which makes Cloverbud meetings and activities an ideal learning environment.

There is no doubt that these skills are important for Cloverbud-age youth. How youth thrive may depend on whether they possess a variety of SEL skills. Being able to concentrate on SEL skills assumes a foundation having basic and safety needs met.

Social emotional learning, as conceptualized by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, consists of five overarching competencies (see the CASEL Wheel). The Ohio Department of Education also uses the CASEL SEL competencies. These five SEL competencies represent very broad areas.

  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Management
  • Social Awareness
  • Relationship Skills
  • Responsible Decision Making

In addition to being important for Cloverbuds now, research indicates that SEL competencies have become increasingly important during the transition from middle childhood to early adolescence because they have been consistently linked to two primary developmental tasks of adolescence—academic achievement and social competence. In the most recent study, researchers studied five more specific indicators of social emotional development. The descriptions of these five skills are below.

  • Prosocial Behaviors: being able to take another person’s perspective, offer support, and help when others are in distress.
  • Cooperation: the ability to work well with peers, teachers, and other adults for a common benefit or goal.
  • Self-Control: being able to control and regulate attention and impulsive behavior in order to pursue and achieve long-term goals.
  • Emotion Regulation: identifying and managing emotions.
  • Work Habits: the ability to work hard and independently, to turn in work on time, to follow group rules, and to put forward one’s best effort to achieve goals.

This study found that there were distinct profiles of children’s SEL skills during middle childhood (measured in Grade 4). The researchers found that about half of the children displayed consistently high scores across all five SEL skills, while others were strong on some, but weaker on others, and still others were low on all skills. The other major finding was that these patterns were linked to distinctive peer and academic outcomes in early adolescence (measured in Grade 6), with the those displaying all five skills faring better. In contrast, the youth who exhibited prosocial and self-control skills were at risk of poor academic competence; the high cooperation/work habit youth were at risk of poor social functioning. Those with overall low SEL skills demonstrated the highest risk in poor academic and social functioning in early adolescence.

SEL and Cloverbud Volunteers

What does this mean for Cloverbud volunteers? A key takeaway from this research is that it is important to help youth achieve a variety of social emotional skills, not just any one skill. Children in the Cloverbud age group are learning social and emotional skills, but they are a work in progress – they are still mastering them. Small group activities help them learn how to get along with others and be social. As you work with Cloverbuds, how you set up activities and the interactions that occur between you and the members and between the members with each other will provide many opportunities to reinforce these skills. Encourage them to work with and talk to each other. These practices will create a positive social climate.

It’s easy to see how these SEL skills will help Cloverbuds get along in the world now and in the future. However, because they are more self-centered, it will be a while before Cloverbuds are totally able to see something from someone else’s perspective. Developing self-control allows them to share with others and to stay focused. Rules help establish group norms while teaching work habits, self-control, and emotion regulation. These rules should be focused on safety and well-being. If corrections are needed, the best practice is to start by getting the child’s attention by using their name, restating your expectations, and giving a specific instruction on how they can correct their behavior. When giving directions, start off by saying, “Soon, but not yet,…” and keep the number of steps simple.

In addition, you can teach these skills directly. For example, The Big Book of Cloverbud Activities has activities titled “My Feelings”; these activities help Cloverbuds learn to recognize and label emotions. Activities must take into account children’s developmental stage. For example, there is a gradual shift from the ability to recognize and name different emotional states (what does an angry face look like, and how is anger different from or similar to sadness?) to understanding that different people can have different emotional reactions to the same situation because of their own personal experiences and preferences (I feel angry when X happens, but my best friend feels sad).

These skills can also be embedded in many other activities. For example, many games involve waiting to take a turn. A game of “Freeze Frame” (play some music and when you pause, they are to freeze in whatever pose they are in when the music stops) can work on managing impulsivity. Another great way is to use books to introduce SEL concepts. Fortunately, there are many such books available (for example, see the Denver Public Library and the Deschutes Public Library for lists).

Developing SEL skills is not a one-shot deal; it’s a process that unfolds over time. As a Cloverbud volunteer, you get to be part of the process!

References

Collaborative for Academic, Emotional, and Social Learning. (n.d.). What is the CASEL framework? https://casel.org/fundamentals-of-sel/what-is-the-casel-framework/

Denver Public Library. (n.d.). Books for social, emotional, and academic learning. https://kids.denverlibrary.org/blog/k-3/books-social-emotional-and-academic-learning

Deschutes Public Library. (n.d.). DPL Kids: Social emotional learning (SEL) picture books. https://dpl.bibliocommons.com/list/share/362500057/1258121077

Ferrari, T. (2021, January). Using books to discuss mental, emotional, and social health. Cloverbud Connections. https://u.osu.edu/cloverbudconnections/2021/01/18/using-books-to-discuss-mental-emotional-and-social-health/

Jones, S. M., & Doolittle, E. J. (2017). Social and emotional learning: Introducing the issue. The Future of Children, 27(1), 3‒12. https://www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/Documents/FOC-Spring-Vol27-No1-Compiled-Future-of-Children-spring-2017.pdf

Ma, T.-L., Zarrett, N., Puente, K., Liu, Y., Vandell, D. L., Simpkins, S. D., & Yu, M. V. B. (2022). Longitudinal links between profiles of social emotional behaviors in childhood and functioning in early adolescence. Journal of Early Adolescence, 42(6), 765–792. https://doi.org/10.1177/02724316221078829

Matheis, L. (2021, December 2). Rebuilding children’s social skills during COVID. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/special-matters/202112/rebuilding-children-s-social-skills-during-covid

Ohio Department of Education. (2019). Social and emotional learning standards. https://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Learning-in-Ohio/Social-and-Emotional-Learning/Social-and-Emotional-Learning-Standards

U.S. Surgeon General. (2021). Protecting youth mental health: The U.S. Surgeon General’s advisory. https://www.hhs.gov/surgeongeneral/reports-and-publications/youth-mental-health/index.html

Caring for Others

Cloverbud aged children often focus on themselves as they are forming their self-concept. As young Cloverbud children (5 – 6 years old) become 7- to 8-year-olds, they start to increase their awareness and concern for others; in particular, they can have empathy toward others. Empathy results from an increase in their emotional understanding skills as thinking abilities develop and through social experiences.  In the 4-H Cloverbud program we can help members learn to care for others and grow their empathy skills.

Certainly, it’s a good thing to care for others and be kind, but why is empathy and caring for others important for Cloverbuds? By learning to care of others, children benefit in many ways:

  • Contributes to their overall healthy development
  • Builds positive relationships with other kids and adults
  • Feel a sense of accomplishment
  • Increase their self-esteem and confidence
  • Creates a sense of belonging

As Cloverbud volunteers and advisors, how can we promote a caring attitude with our Cloverbud kids? Here are some strategies to use:

  • Model caring behavior for them to see (share, offer compliments, hold a door open)
  • Talk about your feelings to encourage them to do also (“I am tired from a busy day, but happy to be with you,” “I feel sad because a family member is sick.” – fosters empathy)
  • Thank the children when they show care towards you and others (positive reinforcement)
  • Make kindness and caring a foundation for your Cloverbud club
  • Listen to children and where they are at without passing judgement

We can all make our community a better place to live. It starts with our children and the Cloverbud program is great place for kids to learn and practice caring for others and kindness.

Building Resiliency in Cloverbuds

Children need to develop resiliency skills starting from birth. Serving as a Cloverbud or 4-H Volunteer puts you in a prime position to continue building resiliency skills among the Cloverbud age youth in your program. Resiliency can be described as the skills developed by overcoming a stressful or adverse situation/ event. Youth face many challenges at home and in their personal lives that strengthen their resiliency and allow them to emerge from those situations stronger.

Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child includes factors children identified as helping them overcome hard times in their lives.  The most often cited factor is a consistent, caring, and supportive adult role model. This role model could be a parent, caregiver, or another adult that they interact with often – maybe even that Cloverbud or 4-H Volunteer! Can we build resiliency skills in our Cloverbuds? Absolutely! And you might not even know it, but you are improving those skills at every meeting. Give youth an opportunity to take a risk in a safe space within the club. This could be as simple as trying a new way to make the craft for the week. If the result is less than ideal, you have provided the safe space for them to learn and grow. Managing emotions can be nurtured by creative play and games that Cloverbuds might undertake at a club meeting. It might be that member that wants to win the game or finish their project first every time. Providing a space where youth feel comfortable asking for help if they don’t understand or need assistance with an activity builds resiliency.

Rename yourself the Strength Builder for Buckeye 4-H Club of Clover County because you are more than just a 4-H volunteer to those youth in your care. Make your own name tag, cape and dress the part, members of your club will be looking for the hero at the next 4-H meeting.

 

Source: Young, K. (2020, August 17). Resilience. Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. Retrieved November 9, 2021, from https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/resilience/

Cloverbuds and Mental Health

When it comes to taking care of our children, it is easy to identify their basic physical needs: food, clothing, and shelter.  What children need to satisfy their mental and emotional needs may be less obvious.  Why is mental health important?  Good mental health enables our children to develop their emotional and social skills and to develop other critical life skills.

As a Cloverbud volunteer you play an important role in the emotional and social development of your Cloverbud members.  Select activities that are age-appropriate for your Cloverbuds.  For example, if your Cloverbuds are all five years old, select activities that use pictures and have minimal writing.  Most five-year old children are just learning to read and write and may become frustrated with activities that are focused on these skills.  Give plenty of positive reinforcement and encourage them to problem solve together.  Keep instructions short and simple, giving no more than a step or two at a time.  Show them what to do as well as tell them.  Know the ages of your Cloverbuds and choose activities accordingly.

How can Cloverbud volunteers help Cloverbuds to develop their self-esteem and self-confidence (both of which play an important role in a child’s mental health)?  Utilize these simple suggestions:

  • Praise them. Give positive reinforcement for following directions, cooperating with others, and being attentive.  Be encouraging if a Cloverbud is struggling with an activity.  Encourage them to work together cooperatively.
  • Know your Cloverbuds and be realistic about their capabilities. Choose activities that can be successfully completed.  Challenge them but not to the point where they become frustrated and give up.
  • Children value honesty. Let them know it’s okay to make a mistake.  Making mistakes help us to learn and grow.  Adults make mistakes, too, and it’s okay to admit that.
  • Provide a safe environment. Do not tolerate bullying or “picking on” others.
  • When it comes to discipline, be firm but fair. Do not allow unacceptable behaviors to disrupt your Cloverbud meetings.  Focus on the behavior and not the child.
  • Make Cloverbud meetings fun! Allow them to interact appropriately and allow time for play.  Keep activities simple and short to allow for their short attention spans.

Successful Cloverbud meetings teach children about working together and having fun.  Finishing a challenging task and developing new skills reinforces self-confidence and helps children to develop a healthy self-esteem.

Developing self-confidence and positive self-esteem are critical components of a child’s mental health.  Children who feel good about themselves are more likely to develop a positive outlook on life.  Cloverbud volunteers play an important role in helping our Cloverbud children to develop a firm foundation for positive mental health.  Take time to reflect on how you can be a positive influence on your Cloverbuds.

Need help with planning a successful Cloverbud meeting?  The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities is full of lessons that are designed to facilitate the healthy emotional and physical development of our Cloverbuds.  Contact your Extension Office for information on how to obtain a copy of The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities.

Value of Making Friends

According to an Irish Proverb, “A good friend is like a four-leaf clover; hard to find and lucky to have”.  Young children are just beginning the friend building process.  As the new school year begins, our Cloverbuds are going through many changes.

One big change is that they are interacting with new friends.  This age of development includes a time when the youth have many different “best friends” at one time.  If there is a disagreement between children, most of the time it is short-lived.

Learning how to interact with others is an important life skill that can be taught and instilled in our Cloverbuds.  It is important that we make sure they have this opportunity.

Have a conversation about what characteristics Cloverbuds have that will make a good friend.  Why are these characteristics important?  Some characteristics include honesty, sharing, taking turns, empathy, being a good listener, having trust, etc.

Cloverbuds can follow the 4-H pledge when making friends. As a volunteer and parent, encourage youth to be a good friend to others.

  • Head: using your head to make good safe choices and being a friend to others; speak up about bullying
  • Heart: be a caring Cloverbud to others, see what needs to be done and help others
  • Hands: through service and helping others you will be a good friend
  • Health: being with friends is good for mental health; laughing releases stress even for Cloverbuds

Youth look to adults as a positive role model, including how to interact with friends.  Children will model friendship behavior such as reaching out to friends to see how they are, being supportive, and investing time and energy into your friendships.  When they see that you value friends, they are more likely to do the same.  Building friendships takes time, energy, and effort.  Through experiences in 4-H and the Cloverbud program, friendships will blossom.

Using Books to Discuss Mental, Emotional, and Social Health

“You are never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.”

Dr. Suess

4-H members pledge their “health to better living” – that means mental health, too. Mental health is a very broad term referring to our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It’s about how people think, feel, and behave. Just like the definition for overall health, mental health is not only the absence of mental illness, it also refers to the presence of positive characteristics. Ohio 4-H is promoting mental health in January by providing resources on a section of our webpage, through educational programming, and throughout our social media platforms.

Why Mental Health Matters

Mental health is important because it determines how people handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Positive mental health is important because it allows people to do the following:

  • Realize their full potential
  • Cope with the stresses of life
  • Be productive
  • Make meaningful connections to others
  • Make contributions to their communities

Our mental health can change over time. It depends on many factors. Having good mental health doesn’t mean that people never go through bad times. Experiencing setbacks is inevitable – it’s part of life. It means we have the tools to cope with life’s challenges. It helps us keep problems in perspective and bounce back from those setbacks.

Mental health problems don’t only affect adults. Children, teens, and young adults can have mental health problems, too. Young children are still learning how to deal with their emotions and figure out how to regulate their behaviors in socially acceptable ways. All children can benefit from learning how to express themselves, get along with others, cope with stress, and be resilient.

Using Books to Discuss Mental, Emotional, and Social Health

Books are an ideal tool when discussing serious topics, because they can make abstract ideas more concrete through simple words and images. In her Cloverbud Connections article, Greene County 4-H Educator Rebecca Supinger reminds us about using books as a jumping-off point to start tough conversations.

Here are some general suggestions to prepare you for using books with Cloverbuds.

  • Get recommendations from local educators or librarians or read reviews (e.g., Goodreads, a site for book recommendations).
  • Read the book ahead to familiarize yourself with it. You can also find YouTube videos of many books.
  • Consider companion activities to allow children to engage in more interactive and hands-on ways with the topic.
  • Think about reflection questions to encourage discussion after reading the book.

Amanda Raines, 4-H Educator from Hardin County, has used the book When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really, Angry… by Molly Bang (Blue Sky Press, 1999) with Cloverbuds and preschool classrooms. In the book, when Sophie gets angry, she runs far, far away. “It is an easy tool to get our youngest members talking about how their body feels when they are upset,” she said. “After reading the book, we have a conversation about how to use your words to express your feelings instead of letting your body take over.” Amanda said she also usually follows this story with an activity, such as making a calm down jar or meditation bottle, which gives the participants a tool to take home and start practicing what they’ve learned. Amanda and her Cloverbud, Lily, demonstrate how to do this craft in this Cloverbud Creators video.

Reviewers of this book point out that Sophie runs away when she gets angry, and therefore it might encourage children to take this action as well. Although physical activity is a positive strategy, because of their age and where they live (e.g., an urban area), running away into the woods isn’t necessarily a good option for young children. This illustrates the importance of following the book with some discussion. For example, have the children tell what techniques they use to calm themselves when they are angry. (“When Sophie gets angry, she runs away into the woods and climbs her favorite tree. Different people handle anger in different ways. What do you do when you get angry?”) It’s important to validate the feeling (it’s okay to feel angry) but not necessarily the reaction that follows.

“My Feelings,” in the Big Book of Cloverbud Activities that is now available at Ohio 4-H Stay at Home Projects, has some great activities that can be paired with books that discuss mental health topics. For example, after discussing a book, Cloverbuds might want to draw or write about their own emotions.   “Disappointment and Feelings,” an activity in Coping with COVID: Lesson Plans to Promote Mental, Emotional, and Social Health, would also work for the Cloverbud age group.

Other book suggestions:

  • How Big are Your Worries Little Bear: A Book to Help Children Manage and Overcome Anxiety, Anxious Thoughts, Stress and Fearful Situations by Jayneen Sanders, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman (Educate2Empower Publishing, 2018)
  • There Might Be Lobsters by Carolyn Crimi, illustrated by Laurel Molk (Candlewick Press, 2017)

To find more children’s books about mental health-related topics, here are three websites that Amanda Raines recommends.

Check out the Mental Health Month resources on the Ohio 4-H webpage. Mental health-related topics are also featured in the Ohio 4-H Healthy Living blog. Although targeted to a teen audience, volunteers can benefit from the resources shared on this platform.

Mindfulness for our 4-H Cloverbud Members

Whoo! We made it through the holidays!  But with all that hustle and bustle, we tend to forget to take time to check in on how we are feeling. If we, as adults, forget to check in on ourselves, imagine how hard it may be for our 4-H Cloverbud members to express how they are feeling. January is a hard month because it tends to be cold, dreary and all the holiday fun is over. This is a great time to talk to our members about ways to take care of their mental health and well-being.

Mindfulness is a way to bring connection between the brain, mind, body, and behavior.  It is easy for many of us to fall into the trap of worry and having our minds run a mile a minute and that can happen to our youth, too. There are so many demands on our children these days that it may be difficult for them to take time to be calm and quiet, and their bodies need that rest.

Find some activities that your Cloverbud members like or challenge them to come up with their own mindful activity. Maybe they will suggest coloring, writing in a journal, if they are a little bit older, or just taking deep breaths. Any of these activities are a great start to practice mindfulness.

When we can host meetings again in person, try adding one of these activities at the start or the end of your Cloverbud club meeting. If you are meeting virtually, you could take time to read a book or start the meeting with a few deep breaths. As stated in previous Cloverbud Connections, it is important for our younger members to take time to acknowledge their feelings and begin learning how to process those feelings.

A favorite activity for our members, which is easy to do and does not require any additional items, is a grounding exercise. Grounding allows us to reconnect with our surroundings and take a moment to refocus and relax. Try the following activity with your members.

Grounding Activity for Cloverbuds:

  • Advisors or Adult Volunteers can read the following script:
    • Sit in a way that is comfortable for you. This may be on a blanket on the floor, in a chair at a meeting, or outside if the weather is nice.
    • Once you have found a good spot, close your eyes, and take a deep breath in and out.
    • We are going to sit as still and as quiet as possible, take another deep breath in and out. Use your listening ears to identify all the sounds you can hear. Make a list in your mind of 3 things you hear. Maybe it is a buzzing of a fan or it is so quiet you do not hear anything.
    • Now while we are still sitting still and quiet – take a big breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Take a minute to see if you smell anything. Maybe there is a smell you did not notice when the meeting started like flowers or crayons. Make a list in your mind of 3 things you smell.
    • One last time still sit as quiet and still as possible – take one more big breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Now we are going to use our sense of feel. You can put your hands on the ground next to you or out on the table. What are some things you feel like the cold floor or a rough table? Make a list in your mind of 3 things you feel.
  • Remember if you are able to model or demonstrate what you are doing that may help some members – Sometimes kids like to open their eyes to see if they’re doing the right thing or to make sure they aren’t alone.
  • Once you have read through the Mindfulness script, ask members to share what they heard, smelled, or felt. This is an effective way to reflect on the activity and create a connection between youth if they noticed similar things.
  • This is a great activity that can be modified as needed for the meeting location, group, etc. You could also offer those older members an opportunity to read the script or create their own relaxing story to share.

We hope you are learning new ways to take care of yourself and your members during Ohio 4-H’s Mental Health Month. Be sure to share any new ideas you have learned or tried so that others can use them in their club meetings or with their members. We hope you are using your health for better living this January!

For additional resources visit go.osu.edu/MentalHealthMonth or Coping with COVID: go.osu.edu/CopingWithCOVID  (“Just Breathe!,” and “Guided Relaxation”)

Sources:
https://fcs.osu.edu/programs/major-program-areas/healthy-relationships/mindful-wellness
Powers-Barker, P. “Introduction to Mindfulness”. 05/10/2016. Retrieved from: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

Recognizing our Emotions

Many people have difficulty dealing with emotions. As caring adults (4-H advisor, parent, guardian, etc.) we should talk about emotions with the children in our care. Emotions are those instinctive reactions to one’s given circumstances. In children you might see tantrums, crying, pouting, breaking things, or the silent treatment, among others. Sometimes as parents we want to jump in and fix things just like we did when our children were babies. To build our child’s resiliency skills, we need to step aside and be the supportive person “outside their box” as they are dealing with their emotions “inside their box”.

Triggers are those actions or events that when they happen, the individual responds with a strong immediate reaction. Triggers cause a sudden change in our emotions and our body becomes overwhelmed with reacting to the event. Sometimes referred to by parents as “pushing my buttons”, these words or actions bring about an instant reaction. Personally, one of my triggers is when someone scrapes a metal fork on a glass plate. My immediate reaction is to plug my ears. Self-awareness is an important skill for parents to develop in their children. It allows them to recognize emotions, triggers, and responses.

Self-Awareness: Circle of Identification

Here is a very simple activity that can be done with crayons and paper. You might also use cardstock or light-colored paper, especially if you encourage the child to take the paper home. This activity is most effective if you have a small group of children or a large group of children with several adults (i.e. 1 adult for each 3-4 children).

  1. Preprint a circle divided into 3 equal sections on the paper. Have extra copies depending on time available, but 2-3 copies per child is recommended.
  2. Give each child one paper and share the following instructions, one at a time, allowing all children to complete each step before moving on to the next step.
    1. Explain what an emotion is (angry, embarrassed, happy). In one of the sections of the circle, instruct the children to draw a picture of an emotion they have experienced.
    2. Define a trigger and give examples. In a different section, have them draw a picture demonstrating something that might trigger the emotion they selected in the first space.
    3. In the final space, have them draw a picture of how they deal with that emotion.
  3. You can use another sheet and redo the activity using another emotion.
  4. In summary, talk with them about the value in being able to identify their emotions, identify their triggers and evaluate their reaction to that emotion. This is key to really understanding the concept of self-awareness which allows youth and adults to handle both good and bad situations in life.

As caring adults, we can model feeling words by defining the exact emotion you are experiencing at that time. Avoid reactions like foul language, yelling or aggressive physical reactions, because you are modeling these as appropriate reactions to certain emotions. We can all agree that resiliency is a vital skill for youth and adults.  Building the concept of self-awareness is a step to preparing youth (even at a young age) for future success.

Sources:

Pincus, D. (2020, September 1). My Child is Out of Control: How to Teach Kids to Manage. Medium. https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-is-out-of-control-how-to-teach-kids-to-manage-emotions/

Sadowski, K. (2020, August 31). 8 Tip to Help Your Child Gain Control of His/Her Emotions. Medium. https://www.nspt4kids.com/parenting/8-tips-to-help-your-child-gain-control-of-hisher-emotions/

Teaching Cloverbuds to Identify and Manage Anger

Anger is an emotion that all people experience from birth to death.  When an infant is upset or frustrated, the only tool they have to communicate those feelings is crying.  As we age, we develop the ability to communicate our emotions to others by using words and behaviors.  Oftentimes, adults expect young children who are dealing with anger to use coping tools that are not fully developed, such as “using their words” instead of crying.

Helping our children understand anger and develop skills to communicate that emotion can alleviate frustration for both child and adult.  Here is a simple plan to use with your club to begin the process:

Opening Discussion – Have a short discussion with members using these questions:

  • When is a time that you felt angry?
  • How can you tell if a person is angry?
  • What do you do when you are angry?

Read a story – There are many great children’s books about dealing with anger. Try one of these:

  • When Sophia Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang
  • When I am Angry by Michael Gordon
  • When I Feel Angry by Cornelia Maude Spelman

Debrief the Story – Reviewing what happened will help members identify what to do and not do when they experience anger.

  • Ask what happened to make the character(s) mad.
  • Ask what the character did to calm down.

Make a Calm Down Bottle – This simple craft is easy to make and is a tool that members can take home to practice coping with anger.

Supplies:

  • Water bottle for each member
  • Corn syrup
  • Funnel
  • Tablespoon
  • Glitter
  • Hot glue gun (optional)

Steps:

  1. Give each member a water bottle and have them drink or dump so that it is halfway full.
  2. Using the funnel, have each member add a 2-3 tablespoons of glitter to their bottle.
  3. Add corn syrup to the bottle until it is full.
  4. Hot glue the lid on (parents will appreciate this step!)
  5. SHAKE the bottle and watch the glitter swirl.

Teach each member to use their calm down bottle.  Discuss that this is a tool for them to use when they feel angry.  They just need to shake the bottle and then sit quietly and watch as the glitter settles to the bottom.  If they still feel angry when the glitter has settled, they can shake it again for a longer cool down period.  Challenge your members to use their bottle instead of yelling or crying when they feel mad.