| Connect Two |

The Driver: Part III

All this is tough work for Shloimy, and negative emotions are even tougher


Mother: I have to work on being comfortable and accepting my own feelings so I can reflect and role model for Shloimy.

Sister: Why does Shloimy think everything is so major?

Shloimy: I like big feelings, not little ones.

As Shloimy practices identifying his feelings and what triggers them, I start incorporating the concept of shades of emotion.

I show Shloimy some paint chip samples. “Look at this one,” I say. “It’s all green, but in four different shades. At the top is dark green, and at the bottom is a very pale green. Emotions work the same way. Sometimes your feelings are really intense, and you’re super happy, but sometimes you’re just a bit happy.”

I refer him back to the emotion wheel, where each feeling is represented by another color: happy is green, angry is red, afraid is orange, surprised is yellow, blue is sad, and disgusted is purple.

“What makes you super-duper happy?” I tap the bright green sample.

“My birthday and getting lots of presents!”

I point to the pale green. “And what makes you just a little happy?”

“Getting soda on Shabbos.”

All this is tough work for Shloimy, and negative emotions are even tougher, as he prefers to avoid them.

“What triggers anger for you?”


“Try to think. What makes you really mad?”

Shloimy turns red. “When people touch my stuff!” he bursts out. I point to the deep red paint chip — Shloimy’s anger is really intense. He kicks the convertible hard, and it hits the wall.

I remove a toy airplane from a shelf.

“A pilot flies a plane,” I tell Shloimy. “If he loses control of the plane, it crashes. What kind of pilot do you think a plane needs? A green pilot, who is always happy, or a red pilot, who feels angry?”

He holds out a hand. “Can I play with it?”

“Sure.” I hand it to him. “But remember, it’s your job to make sure you stay green and happy.”

His eyes flicker toward me. “Sometimes I get upset.”

“Of course. Everyone does. You’re allowed to have feelings. But you also have to maintain control over them. You don’t want to crash the plane.”

Shloimy leaves with the same homework I gave him a few weeks ago — to chart his emotions throughout the day. If he’s truly making progress, he should be able to identify what’s driving him.

Miriam gets homework, too. The same homework, in fact. “By tracking what triggers Shloimy,” I tell her, handing her another blank emotion wheel, “you’ll identify any problems that need to be solved. Is he always hungry at a certain time? That’s a huge handicap for self-control.

“There’s no way to make his life perfect,” I emphasize, “and dealing with problems is part of life. But at this point, if there are consistent trouble spots that we can reasonably help with, we should.”

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 667)

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