At play and at school, children learn from their social experiences. They find out how wonderfully compatible – “He likes to build forts, too!” – yet how different we can be from others. The differences can create conflict.
Six-year-old Max feels his temper rising while playing with a friend. “YOU make me mad!” he blurts, throwing down a toy. The words squarely – and conveniently – blame a classmate for his behavior. But truthfully, no one controls a puppet string that forces him to shout or act out. Even adults sometimes revert to the “YOU make me shout!” style of handling conflict.
As children grow, they need to learn how to calm themselves and verbalize feelings appropriately. When Max can say, “I feel angry when you won’t play my favorite game,” instead of “YOU make me mad!” he has learned something important about anger control. He understands that no one else has the power to make him shout or hurt others.
Liz, the character in my book, first blames her sister for her behavior. “You make me scream and shout!” she cries. Young readers will learn with Liz, who soon discovers that her sister doesn’t have a magical way to turn a kid into a fire-breathing dragon. Liz learns to tame her internal dragon, and your child can as well.