Sunday, 24 April 2016

When the Shit Hits the Fan - REBT, kids and self regulation

Shit and fans have been part of our vernacular for as long as I can remember. Pear and shaped ditto. These words together help describe colloquially situations that are unwelcome. Pain and arse also come to mind!

What to do when the proverbial hits the wotsit? The amount of the proverbial and size of the fan is significant; how big is the problem? The amount and size is relative to how we may perceive the situation or how we 'estimate' the severity of it! As Marcus Aurelius said: 

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” 

Is the problem of catastrophic proportions, pretty big or just a pain? Young children find it useful to learn about the catastrophe scale. This scale helps them see how problems can be arranged in terms of how big/significant they are to the young person. They learn to ask themselves 'is it as bad as..?' If not then this little shift in thinking will have a beneficial payoff i.e. 'this isn't as bad as I initially thought it was and now I feel less angry/sad..'


Learning how to regulate emotional and behavioural responses to situations requires some insight into how thinking is connected to feeling and behaving. Daily teaching of this will help the child develop a habit of stopping, establishing how she feels at a particular moment and then to ask 'what am I thinking/what am I telling myself about this problem? (what is my estimate of what's happening?). The child will become well practised in judging the badness of what is happening according to her own constructed catastrophe scale.

Of course in practising this yourself you are also teaching those around you. Your children are always watching you!


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