I work part-time as an elementary counselor. This year I mostly work with Kindergarten students. For the past several weeks we have been talking about "strong feelings", particularly feeling angry. We've talked about what events might trigger us to choose to become angry (notice it's a CHOICE!), how our body feels and reacts when we are angry, and what we can do to calm down.
Now, let me just add, I teach the same weekly lesson AT LEAST 10 times a week every week all relating to the same topic even though each lesson takes it from a different angle. I could probably recite the lessons in my head without my notes! (so you'd think I could apply them in my life too... hah!)
This unit was brought on by a request from mostly the teachers. Hitting and name calling is a BIG problem this year. Kids are becoming more and more aggressive. Someone hits me, makes me angry in some way, or calls me a name, BOOM - let's get 'em right back! Each time "upping the anty" a bit until someone else intervenes (usually a teacher). It's discouraging for adults to watch and some of the kids are LITERALLY afraid to be anywhere NEAR some of the kids in their class!
To me, it's simple and I've been bewildered by some of the stories I hear. Why can't the child go and get a teacher's help before replying? Why can't he/she just calm down first and THINK before acting? Why can't he/she see that violence and mean replies DO NOT solve the problem? HA - well, Cara, that's because you're not in the situation and you're also a bit older and SHOULD hopefully be a bit more mature :)
Well, I learned this week I have not been learning from my own lessons as much as I would like! Someone I love very much received an email this week (or a few emails) that were very hurtful and attacking. The person receiving this email is innocent of charges being made and has bent over backwards trying to support this other person making the attacks. When I read the emails that were sent I wanted to IMMEDIATELY reply with a nasty email. How DARE they hurt this person I love with FALSE accusations and also spread their FALSE accusations with others to hurt this person's reputation? I wanted to jump right in and ATTACK!!!
Fortunately, I did take some time. Fortunately, I did think about how to reply. Fortunately, I was a third party and not the recipient of the terrible accusations (because if not, I think I would have acted poorly!). But, anyway, I realized I needed to apply my own lessons in my life. I needed to calm down and think about the best way to handle the situation and what helpful advice I could give to the person being accused.
It SUCKS to be in that situation. Sometimes people are just DOWN-RIGHT mean and IT SUCKS that you can't change their actions. You feel powerless. You feel hurt/betrayed. UGH - it's a TERRIBLE feeling. (and I wasn't even the direct recipient!) You WANT to do something, but there is NOTHING you can do to change the other person. NOTHING. Until that person decides to change themselves.
That's a hard part of life. Hard lesson to learn. Gut-wrenching in some cases. But, that's where the gospel perspective of hope and faith come in. That's where the Love of the Savior and the Atonement come in. But, it's still hard! When someone attacks YOU it's hard to just shrug it off and turn the other cheek. SO HARD! But, as I teach my students, does hitting back solve the problem? No! It only makes it worse. UGH - it looks like the lessons I am teaching these little ones are ones I CAN APPLY to my own life... for my ENTIRE life. It never gets any easier... whether you're 5 or 55. But, hopefully you learn some things along the way :)
And, now I have a better understanding of why some of these kids have a really hard time controlling their actions when someone hurts them verbally or physically.
And, yesterday I read this quote to add to my light bulb experience:
"That HE may know how to succor..."
"Can we, even in the depths of disease, tell Him anything at all about suffering? In ways we cannot comprehend, our sickness and infirmities were born by Him even before they were borne by us. The very weight of our combined sins caused Him to descend below all. We have never been, or will be, in depths such as He has known. Thus His atonement made perfect His empathy and His mercy and His capacity to succor us, for which we can be everlastingly grateful as He tutors us in our trials...And when we feel alone, can we presume to teach Him... anything at all about feeling forsaken? Should we seek to counsel Him in courage? Should we rush forth eagerly to show Him our... scratches and bruises as He bears His five special wounds? .... Indeed, we cannot teach Him anything! But we can listen to Him. We can love Him; we can honor Him; we can worship Him. We can keep His commandments. and we can feast upon His scriptures."
Elder Neal A Maxwell
Elder Neal A Maxwell