A first grader was hunched over in the corner, extremely upset, during class, on and off. He felt that his buddy “hated him” because his buddy was playing with other students and had other friends now. His buddy even checked in on him but the student hid his face. While I reminded his buddy that checking in on him was very compassionate and kind, his friend obviously was not in a space to talk nor was it his job to keep him happy. This has happened before. I later checked in on the upset student. This is when he broke down and shared his feelings. I shared space with him and then made a decision. This can be a tough concept for a first grader but I took a risk. This story I tell often and it helps students change negative patterns. After the two students problem solved, and it was clear his buddy was his friend but had other friends too, I shared this story:
Person A and B have just been name-called by person C. (Drawing it out/acting it out can help too). Person B says “Wow, they must be having a terrible day,” and goes off and plays. Person A says, “He hates me, he is right, I have no friends,” and proceeds to have the worst day of his life. At this moment I asked my student who was responsible for their feelings? He immediately points to A and B. He jumped up and said “ok,” and went off to play. Sometimes my 5th graders don’t quite understand the concept but this first grader got a light in his eye, understood this concept and turned it around. Focusing on “I like me” and jumping into a fun activity was the new direction/pattern.
My kids constantly surprise me.