The 5th B = BREAK for Anger and Anxiety

The 5th B was developed specifically for Anger and Anxiety. It can be used alone or it can be used in conjunction with The 4Bs of Self Control. When I plan to teach the 5th B, I use one of two approaches to help the children have an image to use when anger or worry start to take over. (Without advanced planning it is very difficult to find something else to think about instead of the rage or anxiety.) If you don’t have a lot of time, go around the circle of children and have everyone pick one or two things that are peaceful and enjoyable such as snuggling with parent, camping, riding bikes, reading, going out for ice cream, etc. The other approach takes longer but is very helpful with children have major self-control or anger issue. I teach the children guided imagery relaxation. When most of the class is able to visualize a safe, calm place I have them get into small groups to talk about their images. Then each child draws a picture of his or her image. This becomes something to visualize when getting upset or angry.
For children who have almost no time between feeling fine and feeling full blown anger I have an additional step to help them. Individuals who have a rapid cycling into anger find sequential techniques such as the 4Bs difficult. With this type of child, you can take their picture of a safe or calm place and shrink it until it is the size of a license. Laminate it and have them keep it in a back pocket. When they get angry they just have to touch that pocket to stimulate the image, which usually evokes feelings of calmness.

Space and Space related to Anger
Understanding your use of space to have friendly conversations and to exert control can have a large impact on safety. This handout contains several variations on the space activities contained in the Disarming the Playground books. In addition to the fact that all violence entails spatial intrusion, space use can create prejudicial feelings. Different cultures have different uses of personal and social space. I remember visiting Mexico and feeling surprised by the small amount of space used for conversations and general interactions. I discovered that brushing against someone did not require the apology that I was brought up to use because the close space use made brushing against people inevitable. Now, picture an American school that has a influx of children from Mexico. When they approach a teacher to talk, they stand less than an arm’s distance away. The teacher feels like the children are space invaders, which evokes feelings of unease. When people feel that their space is invaded it increases fears of violence. The teachers find themselves continually asking the children to back up and give them space. The result of this type of interaction could cause the teachers to develop the feeling that Mexican immigrants (or other populations that use very close personal space) are potentially violent. So the teachers might develop a prejudicial fear of children from this culture. The children on the other hand may feel that American schools are cold, unfriendly. To them, the greater distance means a lack of acceptance and warmth. These judgments are based on the physical distance of face to face interactions and are often unconscious. With these approach and stop activities can bring these issues out. Picture a teacher who now realizes the impact of always asking the children to back up and learns that if they turn slightly so they are perpendicular to the child, the child can be close and the teacher can feel safe.

Another issue brought up in these activities is the use of space when angry. I was shocked to catch myself intruding in my youngest child’s personal space when I felt she wasn’t listening to me as a teenager. Her response was an uncharacteristic step closer, bringing the two of us close to pushing each other. I quickly took a step backwards as I realized what my space use was doing. How we appear assertive can evoke aggression or respect. Read though the activities that can be used to explore this.

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