Learning to express anger appropriately is a lifelong process (or at least that’s how it feels for me) and Ivy has been experiencing a lot of the stomp, slam and scream kind lately. I can feel it coming over her in waves—and the fear in her eyes as it picks her up and sweeps her away in a flood of feelings she can’t get under control breaks my heart. (It’s really not easy being 3!)
A book that has been exceptionally helpful for us is Mouse Was Mad. We bought it about a year ago and it has been a wonderful ‘read it before you need it’ book. The story follows a mouse who, just like Ivy and all of us at some stage, was mad:
Mouse was mad. Hopping Mad. “You look ridiculous", said Hare. Mouse stopped hopping.
"Let me show you how to hop properly", said Hare, who truly was a hopping wiz.
Mouse tried to hop like Hare. Nothing doing. Mouse hop-hop-flopped-SPLISH!—into a mucky mud puddle.
Now mouse was really mad. Stomping mad.
All of Mouse's friend offer advice on how he can improve on his tantrum. Clearly they meant well, but their suggestions result in Mouse getting madder and madder—until at last he is so mad that he is ‘Standing-still mad'.
But it turns out that being ‘Standing-still mad' isn’t so bad, it gives Mouse the time he needs to calm down.
This is a fun book and a wonderful reference for helping kids process the emotional and physical parts of their feelings, especially anger.
A small reading hint:
When things are calm we read the book and talk about what behaviour is ok when you are feeling mad. And, when Ivy is at boiling point, it’s really helpful to reference what Mouse would do—she's then able (most of the time) to express her anger in a non-violent physical way.
It’s also really helpful for opening communication about what makes us angry and what angry looks like.