Finding the Words Isn't Always Easy

I'm just so $^@& MAD!!!!! 

...I recently had one of my 4th grade client's scream during session. Clenched fists, hunched shoulders, scowl on his face. "Yes, I can see that," Was my response, "something has made you really angry....". One of my favorite things to work with my kids on is finding the words to describe the way they're feeling. Sounds so simple - describing how you feel; but it's really not. "How are you" we're asked probably 10 times a day by different people, typically as a greeting. "Fine", "Well", "Ok", we typically answer - none of which are feelings. I find, many times over, that it's hard for people to put into understandable, intelligible, descriptive, words, how they are feeling. Probably because honest answers are not expected or encouraged when someone asks "How ya doin?". This goes for me as well, I can relate to my kiddo...sometimes what comes to mind is I am just so $^@& MAD!!!!!  

feelings chart.jpg

Feelings charts; love them. MAD is often a place holder, a go to feelings filler word for - What I'm feeling is intense, it's strong, it's overwhelming and I don't know how to describe it to you. 

With my kids - I try to avoid asking questions  -especially why questions. Well why are you upset? Why are you screaming? What's wrong? Instead I focus 1st on keeping my tone and my over all presence, calm and focused, 2nd encouraging my kiddo to keep going - what they're feeling is ok for us to talk about, and I can handle it. 

I can see that you're upset

Wow, you are very mad

You're showing me that you're angry

While their feelings are fine, especially in our counseling space, certain behaviors are not so much. Throwing things is a no, hitting yourself is a no, breaking toys is a no. Every helping professional is different, but for me as long as you're not hurting me or hurting yourself - get it all out. Scream, yell, stomp your feet - let's have it. I recently had  a kiddo (different kid) begin yelling about his frustration with his teachers and the work they're "making [him] do". His voice begins to escalate. He stands up out of his seat. Into his vocabulary spills words like "freakin", "flippin", "stupid head"....and then...."F$@^!" He stops. He looks at me..... I look back, silent. He continues, every other word profanity now. After a while I notice out loud "you're not yelling anymore, and you're sitting back down, do you feel better now?" 

As a adults we often can't find the words to describe how we're feeling. How often do you avoid or ignore a situation because, well, it'd be uncomfortable to confront? How often when there's a rift in a relationship with someone do you sit down with them, talk it out, listen to their "side of the story" and come to an understanding? How often are you able to do either of these things, sure of yourself - confident that you've got the words to express what you're feeling, and the ability to maintain your calm and cool. My guess, if you're anything like me, is not super often. How can we expect our kids to?  

We all need a space to talk things out, to process thoughts and feelings, un-judged and unfiltered. We all need a space to turn I'm just so $^@& MAD!!!!! into - I'm so disappointed, I'm so hurt, I'm so scared.