Monday, February 9, 2009

The Beast Within

A child's anger is unlike an adults. It's less of a quick snap or slow burn, and more of a wild rage. Anger can bring a child to a place where they can't hear or reason, can't stop themselves, can scarcely even catch a breath to howl anew. It's hard for adults to really understand the force of those emotions, but some authors get it and have portrayed it admirably in their work.

I'll bet your child can relate - which also makes these books a great way to talk to them about this powerful emotion at a calmer time. Your child might feel more understood, and you might even just be able to work out some strategies for communicating when your child feels this way and for how you can help him or her return to earth. And who doesn't want that?

When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry, by Molly Bang

This critically acclaimed book was one of the early entries in this category of books that look unblinkingly at how out of control a child's anger can really get. In it, bold, swirling colours illustrate Sophie's wild emotions perfectly as she works through her anger and lets it out. Bang has a real feel for how a strong emotion can carry a child to a different place, and she has chosen a powerful way to express it in this book.

That Makes Me Mad!, by Stephen Kroll, ill. Christine Davenier

Nina explains in this book the things - the many things, some of them seemingly inconsequential to a grown-up, and some familiar, frustrating things - that make her mad.Each instance is illustrated in a little vignette that owes something to comic book sequencing and perfectly capture the expressions and postures of an irritated child. A lot of the circumstances will look familiar, as they happen within the family setting, which makes this all the more approachable. And in the end? Being able to tell her mom about how angry she is, in the end, turns out to be a big help. I like this book a lot - it reminds us of our children's feelings and how even in a warm, loving home, they are bound to get trodden on, and gives a nice, reassuring way to come back together as the storm passes over.

Angry Dragon, by Thierry Robberecht, ill Philippe Goossens

This book may be of particular interest to parents of boys, as the two above both feature girls. In this book, a boy turns into a dragon, taking on an angry red colour, fiercely hurling angry words and stomping about until he can return to being a boy and reconcile with his parents. In terms of illustrating how a child often has to feel their anger all burned away and spent before they can accept a parent's comfort, this is spot on. It also shows the kind of imagination that some children have, which I always appreciate.

If You're Angry and You Know It, by Cecily Kaiser, ill. Cary Pillo

This early reader turns the familiar song If You're Happy and You Know It into a song about dealing with your anger. Illustrations set up common school situations that might make a child feel angry, while the song suggests a technique for showing your anger, ie. "you're angry and you know it, stomp your feet." The suggestions are designed to let off steam, for the most part, and while we might not be thrilled with kids going around stomping, it certainly beats some of the other responses that young children lean towards in moments of rage, so for that, I quite like it. The book wraps up with a verse that assures children that they will then be happy once again. A nice tool for showing more appropriate ways to demonstrate anger, especially for those who are frequently frustrated.

Originally posted on MommyBlogsToronto/Better Than a Playdate.

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