Dinner Topics for Wednesday
“Calmness. Peacefulness. Serenity. The tendency to try to accommodate rather than argue. The understanding that differences are seldom resolved through conflict and that meanness in others is an indication of their problem or insecurity and thus of their need for your understanding. The ability to understand how others feel rather than simply reaction to them. Control of temper.”
Sample Method for Preschoolers: The Magazine Game
This game helps small children realize that it is all right to feel mad or sad, just as it is all right to feel happy or glad, but that it is not all right to hurt other people or their feelings because of how we feel. Flip through magazines with a child, stopping every time a person is pictured and asking, “How do you think he feels?” (Happy, jealous, worried, etc. — this is also a chance to teach children new words and the names of new emotions.) Then say, “It is okay to feel this way?” (Yes) Then say, “Is it okay to be mean to someone else if you feel mad or sad?” (No!)
Sample Method for Elementary Age: The Color Game
This is a good way to teach younger elementary-aged children the good consequences of peace and the bad consequences of anger and retaliation. Cut out two single figures in the human shape, one from red paper and one from pastel color. Tell the children that the red represents temper and impatience, the pastel is control and peace. Give them a situation and let them tell you what each figure might do in each of the following situations:
- Your alarm clock doesn’t go off, so you’re going to be late for school.
- You’re playing basketball and you get called for a foul you didn’t think you committed.
- Your friend forgets to meet you for lunch.
- Your little brother flips you with a rubber band.
- Your mom says you can’t have a sleep over because there’s school tomorrow.
- The new pen you just bought won’t work.
And so on. Think of your own, based on your own experiences.
Sample method for Adolescents: The “Analytical-of-Angry” Discussion
Help young teenagers conceptualize the benefits of trying to “understand” rather than trying to “win.” At dinner or some other natural conversation time make the statement that we have many situations in which there is a choice between two A words — arguing or analyzing. In other words, when someone does something to us or says something with which we disagree, we can either fight back and argue or we can try to analyze why he did or said it.
Point out the second choice is better because we learn something whenever we try to figure out why, and we keep our cool and keep our friends.