I created this visual mood scale for my boys recently. It's quite helpful for them (especially Sullivan who tends to have more of a fluctuation in moods) to see where they're at, list where they're at, and express where they want to be.
A "brief" background: THE DAMN PAIN SCALE 1-10 smiley faces in the hospital. I hate those things. I'm not a numbers type person anyways, and I have the type of personality where if asked how I'm feeling physically, I'll play the tough guy and claim it's not as bad as it may really feel. So realistically, I'm cheating myself out of good medication on the 1-10 thing when visiting the hospital. I don't want to appear as a weakling so I'll never say 10. During my gallbladder attacks I agreed to settle on 8. During my c-sections I was a 5 because I was on pain meds and in the glory of my newborns. It's not the hospitals fault they have a person like me that analyzes and picks apart everything until its turned inside and out and upside and down. Still, there are so many people like me, and I'm guessing they have the same thoughts on the pain scale smiley face charts too.
Plus, how do I know what's worse if I've never had worse then what I'm having at that very moment? Perhaps if I was more of a negative person it would always be the worst. I'd have the highest level of pain each and every time. But what if what I feel is worse, isn't as worse for the patient behind curtain number 2? How can someone treat pain on a scale when pain is measured differently based on ones own personality?
Hence the very reason I cannot stand the hospital pain scales. Maybe they should give you a multiple choice to go along with it, or at least give you some captions relating to pain, as I have done on the mood scale.
So why am I making my sons do the very same thing only in regards to emotions? Because I can.
My sons are fully aware that it's okay to feel different things based on different situations affecting them. They know I don't expect them to constantly be a Five. That's not why I'm doing this. I don't want them to feel as though they're supposed to always say 5 because it's positive, or because I made the chart. However, if they always say that they're a 5 and are always positive, always forgiving, not dwelling and holding grudges, always smiling, then they can be 5.
I want them to learn how to see what their options are, and to compare it with how they're feeling at that exact moment. If it's not where they feel they should be, they can see how to get back to that place.
They know that being a 3 is perfectly fine. They know that it's important however to try and always be better then a 2 or 1. When there are the meltdown moments and they are crying out defensive tears about how their brother always bothers them, or how angry they are about how their brother can go outside and play but they cannot, naturally they're going to be at a 1 or 2. They know that. They feel it with their tantrums.
Our goal, what we're teaching them is to be better then someone that carries a grudge and refuses to get over the fact that their little brother played with their Lego figure three weeks ago. That it's okay to get pissed, but that they must learn how to manage that anger, determine if it's worth it and figure out how to get back to where they should be.
It's not acceptable for them to throw a toy across the room in anger over rules that we give them. When that happens they're escorted over to the mood scale and shown where we see them at based on how they're acting out.(Yes they still have punishments but they do have to face the mood chart about 80% of the time.) We tell them that it's okay to get mad, but how you manage it is what needs to be worked on. We tell them that we know they're going to not like the rules, but the rules are the rules and they are asked only once to leave the 1 or 2 status and at least get to 3. I truly hope that we're teaching them to accept frustrations and disappointments and hurts, but to learn how to manage it and not let it run your forever.
The long term goal, ideally, is for us to teach them that when they express anger, when they have a fight with their brother over whatever the current issue may be, when they carry grudges over rules or differences; not only are they hurting the people they're mad at, but they're showing everyone involved that they haven't yet accomplished the tools of mood management, forgiveness and understanding.
They are products of their parents after all, and naturally we cannot make our kids be something they're not. However, they can all learn those important and very necessary tools in order to navigate through life. I hope that instead of the nightmares that they may have of the mood scale in the future, they'll someday find themselves in their twenties jokingly chatting about when Mom used to say, "Jackson, Sullivan, Benjamin, you're all at a 1 right now, how are you going to get back to a 3? Is it worth your time to continue to be a 1 when something good is waiting for you around the corner involving someone you care about?" Lucky for them they have two parents that prefer not to stay angry for very long.
They see us get annoyed with each other. They see us get pissed. They see us fight and bicker. They see us forgive. They witness us talking about what made us arrive to the mood scale status of number 1 or 2 in the first place. They see us accepting others for who they are, no matter that we're all wired differently. They see us being ourselves, and they see us accepting ourselves for what we are despite what the world may try to do to alter that. They see us respecting each others weaknesses, understanding that we cannot possibly all have the same flaws, and even though we all have our occasional tantrums rendering us to a immediate mood status of 1 or 2, we don't take it personal for too long. We get ourselves back to at least a 3 quickly because it's just not worth being a 1 or 2 all the time. They see our misunderstandings and how we move forward from it. Moving on from it, just as they themselves show remorse later on that night after pulling their brothers hair after breakfast, but they also see and act as though it's not being held against them. Nor is it brought up later on for future ammunition.
Okay, well, maybe they can't see all all of that yet, but they will someday...
Mark My Words.
How was your St.Patty's Day?
This was the 6:00am start to my very delicious corn beef and cabbage with potatoes, carrots, garlic and special top secret ingredients to trick my sons into thinking they were eating something left under a rainbow.
This is the bagel that I sent Jackson to school with for his morning snack. He was so excited to have seen the cream cheese green because it had to have meant after all, that he'd been touched by a leprechaun and would have good luck. Because that's what happens when you wear green. He is fully aware that he's one of the lucky ones. Naturally he was touched by a leprechaun. Its the only logical reason why his bagel that had white whipped cream cheese on it when he left for school, turned into a lucky green. When he asked to see the inside of the cream cheese after he came home from school, we couldn't believe that it was still the same white whipped cream cheese as it was when I smeared it on his bagel. Imagine that!
Jackson was touched with green luck this year, very cool.
I was in my normal slippers. This was first thing this morning after a mile walk with Marina. My legs hurt so much I didn't feel like slipping off my socks.
These are pictures of my little ones taken at the beginning of this month, before their most recent haircuts. So I'm thinking it was around the end of the month of February and beginning of March as I always set out my St. Patty's Day stuff after Brian's birthday.
Marina 4months. As of this past Saturday she weighs 31.6lbs.
Jackson all gums. His two front teeth are coming in and he is in that "all gum funny face I don't want to smile," smile phase.
Jackson and Marina before school that same day as picture above.
He does his own hair, and I am okay with that, in fact I think it's adorable.
When Jackson had gone to a sleepover on a Saturday to a Sunday, Sullivan had a rough time dealing with the fact that he wasn't invited. He had a few number 1 moments during that Saturday. Yet as you can see he was quick to recover as this would be Sullivan happily requesting my breakfast casserole and a shake, meanwhile hanging out with me in the kitchen, enjoying the time he had with me alone.
He's so into it but was equally waiting to delve into my casserole. So much so that he sat there from prep to bake until I served him some squares.
Sullivan likes to do things just like his big brother. One of those things is doing his own hair as well. Too cute!
Ben the ham, always posing. He's a lot like Jackson in this way. He'll pose all by himself for photo ops.
The same day, he wanted me to take a picture of him climbing onto my back. This was as best as I could do. Plus it's cute how his little teeth blend with his button nose.
He loves to wear hats and enjoys the bond he's building with Marina.
I hope you had a good St. Patty's day and I hope that if you were feeling like a 1 or 2 when you arrived here, you've left at at least a 3.
Remember this Please;
Practice having a positive attitude. Attitude matters! You can view the glass as half full or half empty, and it makes a tremendous difference. Practice gratitude as well. It will focus your attention on the positive things in your life and help you see opportunities and solutions.
Work on developing a resilient personality. Resilience is characterized by five traits:
Insight — know yourself and accept the truth and be you, flaws and all.
Adaptability — respond in creative and imaginative ways and accept others for them, flaws and all.
Responsibility — don't bother with blaming others, bringing others into your battles for an audience or wait for someone else to fix your problem.
Commitment — engage with the reality of life and commit to personal growth.
Connection — communicate with openness and clarity and avoid staying angry for too long, it'll hurt the clarity of your own self in the long run.
And when all else fails ask yourself this, "On a scale of One to Five,...."