Dave has a difficult time focusing in the regular education first grade classroom so sometimes he completes writing activities (the most difficult of all) in the library. Today we were working on writing a few sentences while some of his peers were singing songs in the classroom. Dave worked so hard to write neatly and quickly, but by the time we returned to his desk the singing group had finished. Dave was devastated. Huge tears rolled down his face as he realized that what he had worked so hard to participate in was over.
There's something I didn't tell you about Dave, he has had a history of hiting others and destroying property. SO with that in mind I prepared for the worst. I gave him choices of how he may be feeling (sad, happy, angry, frustrated, etc.) and he told me he was frustrated and sad. He did kick the trash can twice before choosing to sing a song with 3 of his peers, but was able to move on without any additional incidents. I was so amazed and proud of Dave's ability to maintain self control and vocalize his feelings instead of having a 30 minute meltdown!
This is a tough lesson for many students to learn, that words can have their needs met as easily as actions. Also, that the actions are not going to produce the reaction they would like. When talking to children, model the language that you want them to use " I am so frustrated" or "Oh no, I really wanted that, I am so disappointed." Then follow up their verbal expression of validating their feelings, even if they can not have what they want, e.g. "I understand that you are disappointed that you did not get to go first, but that's OK you will have a turn to go first later." Remember that maintining control of their bodies and refraining from acting inappropriately which may have been happening for a long time is difficult, but with time and patient coaching children can become terrific communicators!