"Did you know that monsters aren't real?" asked the four-year-old. "They lived a long time ago."
"They’re extinct," said his friend, further tutoring me on monsters.
They were making a trap for the monsters that weren't real. Using chairs for the armature, they wound the sticky tape around and around.
"We can still be scared of what isn't real," I said to validate their fears, thinking of how much of what we fear isn’t real and never comes to be. Yet, the fear itself takes residence in our bodies.
"Where in your body do you feel fear?" I asked, continuing to develop their emotional intelligence.
"In my stomach," one of the boys answered immediately.
"In my brain and heart," said the other. I nodded, thinking how savvy these young children are. How many of us adults are still developing our EQ or denying our feelings?
How creative to play out their fears, trapping them with a friend on sticky tape. I’d first asked them to make the trap with yarn. The colored masking tape is a favorite and I thought to have them use it more sparingly. Their traps can use up much of the tape that is on hand.
They looked at the yarn I’d offered, and then up into my eyes, saying, "But, we need it to be sticky to trap the monsters." I made an exception. Better to have them manage their fears and reorder more tape. Colored masking tape is a staple in Expressive Arts.
They worked side by side, quieting their normal three-year-old fears in a healthy way while having great fun together.
Expressing scary feelings artfully is a wonderful self-soothing skill. Trapping those monsters with sticky masking tape is quite empowering.
Naming our feelings, turning towards them and learning to manage them appropriately are components of emotional intelligence. As teachers we can do much to help children learn to develop these tools of peace.
By helping children sense their feelings and where they are felt in their bodies, and by giving these sensations a name, we offer them choices for their behavior. We can then encourage them to make wise choices rather than act them out inappropriately.
For additional information on developing EQ in preschoolers, please visit my blog post from October 2014 by clicking here!