Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hot Potato, Hot Potato!

Today was the kick-off of my newest counseling group, hooray!! For this group, I'm going to be focusing on identifying feelings and the way the body feels when we have certain emotions, and ways that we can cope and problem-solve when we get upset. These boys have a lot of anger management issues, and when they get upset, they resort to screaming, crying, hiding under tables, hitting, and throwing things. It's especially hard for the little ones with significant emotional problems to express themselves properly, so that's what we're going to work on.

Today's group was just an introduction, laying of ground rules, and team building. I started the group by talking about what behaviors are safe and unsafe for us to use in group and reviewed the classroom rules. The kiddos were super rambunctious because they had just come back from speech. After some calming and reinforcing of the little things they were doing correctly ("I like how G's voice is on 0," "J, thank you for sitting criss-cross," "N is showing me ready behavior because his hands are in his lap," etc), we got on track and the boys chose their group name to be The Footballs.

The activity we did today was all about communication and working together. I blew up a balloon and the boys stood in a circle. The objective was to keep the balloon in the air. We brainstormed ways to hit the balloon (with our hands, knees, heads, elbows, etc) and how we have to hit it (gently, up, not across the room, not at another person). Each took their spot on the carpet and up the balloon went. As we went through the first very exciteable round, I got to point out a lot of skills:
  • Assertiveness - making sure they "called" the balloon by saying "I got it" if they planned on hitting it. It kept them all from running into each other and gave each boy ownership over that hit.
  • Turn-taking - one of the boys, J, got a little too riled up and kept hogging the balloon. I had the opportunity to redirect him to include the other boys, and had him sit out when he needed a break from the excitement to give the others a chance.
  • Apologizing - as expected, a few bumps occurred. We practiced saying a good apology when this happened (i.e. looking at the person in the eye, saying you're sorry, and why) and also accepting the apology with a "thank you, it's okay."
For the second round, I had the boys put their hands in their pockets or under their arms, and they had to keep the balloon in the air without using their hands. Obviously, this was much more challenging for kiddos with impulse control! Every time someone used their hands instead of another body part, I had to stop the game and remind them. D was excellent in this round and helped direct the boys to play appropriately as well (i.e. telling them to spread out so they wouldn't kick each other, reminding them about "no hands").

In retrospect, this game was probably a little above the kiddos level, but we made the best of it. Once we were done, I got the kiddos calmed down (a rather big task after jumping all over whacking a balloon around), and we processed a bit. We talked about what was easy, what was hard, and what we learned about working together and talking it out. They pooped out and lost attention pretty quickly, so processing was kept at a minimum.

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