Something clever I have taught ‘my kids’ in guidance class for as long as I can remember is to distinguish between a big and a little problem. It starts in kindergarten and goes all the way to fifth grade, sadly: the tattling. Kids want to make themselves look better by making others looks worse. Wait, adults wouldn’t do something so childish too, would they!? Or, sometimes, the student really believes telling on a classmate is necessary, that it’s helpful.
So, I teach them the 3 D’s (and this is not an original thought).
1. Is it dangerous?
2. Is it destructive?
3. Is it disturbing? (as in an uncomfortable touch)
The last one is a little challenging to teach the younger students because they may feel disturbed by a peer tapping their pencil. The disturbing action is one that makes you feel uncomfortable, strange, or like “something’s not right here” (something a veteran counselor taught me). But, overall, the 3 D’s cover all major problems that make it necessary to get help. They are a BIG deal, as I say. I teach my own children this too but it’s way more challenging at home when it seems like a discipline to tell on the sibling!
If there’s a little problem, then I teach the students to “blow it away” like a dandelion. I have them practice visualization, picturing themselves picking the dandelion and slowing blowing the seeds away, like their problem. The goal is to have them take a deep breathe, think, and then decide what steps are necessary instead of automatically assuming the worst. This technique works great with anger management as well. It’s so simple, yet so difficult for children and especially adults to do.
As parents and teachers too, we model ways to manage frustrations and anger. We may been freaking out and overeating to everyday, simple stress and showing our kids that they should too. It’s a lesson I work to remind myself.
Is this a big or little problem? Will this matter tomorrow, or better yet in a month?
If not, then take steps to relax. Some people naturally roll with stress better than others, while many of us require conscious effort to choose how to handle what we may consider stress. Recently, I even laughed and reminded a rude stranger in Kroger. I was pushing my cart around a corner, maybe a little fast because I walk fast, and another woman was coming around at the same time. While I immediately smiled, swerved, and said, “Opps, I’m sorry”, she rolled her eyes, frowned and kept on. How rude and unnecessary! I laughed and responded without thinking, “It’s a little problem!”, to which I got no response by the way. When I was young, I remember my aunt Kar smiling and waving like crazy if anyone got road-rage and honked at her. I always thought that was so cool, strange, and funny.
There really are a lot of big things in the world to stress about but I choose to focus on the good too, and mostly. It doesn’t help us or anyone around us if we overreact to ‘little‘ things. We can choose to show our kids when we need to worry and how we can choose to let the small things go. It does take practice and effort. It can be challenging when you feel adrenaline pumping and want to react. Really, though, it benefits us physically, spiritually, and of course, emotionally when we “blow it away” and keep on.