Saturday, June 23, 2012

Learning and Understanding Feelings Through Books

"Mom, I'm bored."

The last few months Beansprout has surprised me by reciting entire lines from some of our books as if they are his own words.  It started with a line from one of the Berenstain Bears books, Sister Bear is home sick and says, "Mom, I'm bored.  Can I watch some TV?"  When he repeated this line verbatim, I must have given Beansprout the oddest look!  It seemed like he was actually talking to me, but he had never used the word "bored" and has never asked to watch "TV" - he usually asks to watch the iPad or specifies his favorite show.  I was completely dumbfounded.  After a second, I realized where it came from and played my part as Momma Bear by replying, "Are you sure you're feeling well enough to watch TV?"  We've rehearsed these lines a few times, and since then I've noticed that it is typically the lines about feelings that he enjoys playing with.  "I'm lonely," is one of the more recent ones.  At first my heart starts to break and then I realize he is referring to the story by Jamie Lee Curtis, Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods that Make My Day.  Phew!

Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis

I guess he's trying to understand the tone and the feeling that matches these words.  The line about feeling lonely usually comes out at night as he's getting ready for bed.  I'm not sure if he is actually having some of these feelings or if he truly is just trying the words on for size.  In any case, he doesn't even realize how spot-on he is with some of his word choices -- I have to laugh when he borrows another line from Curtis' book, "This family is weird!"  

I Was So Mad by Mercer Mayer

It's fascinating that simply reading stories to him can help him gain the vocabulary he needs to express himself.  Covert emotion coaching at it's finest!  We love reading the story from Mercer Mayer, I Was So Mad!  We use our best pouting/angry inflection and have him fill in the lines every-few-pages to make it even more fun.  That's the appeal of so many of the stories from Mayer and the Berenstains- they provide the context to refer back to when Beansprout is struggling with his moods.  Whether he initiates or we do, I love the power of storytelling as a parenting tool.

What are some of your favorite stories dealing with emotions?  

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