Hilary Anderson put a piece of an antacid tablet into a plastic film canister, filled it halfway with water and sealed the lid tightly.
This is what can happen when you get angry and you don?t let it out, she told the nine 5- and 6-year-olds in her anger management class. The children?s fidgeting and chattering stopped. The room was silent as they sat, their eyes fixed on the small white bottle. Seconds ticked by until finally the bottle launched toward the ceiling with a loud pop, trailing a stream of effervescent white water.
Anderson teaches the classes as part of her duties as the children?s services coordinator at the Child and Family Support Center. The classes span eight weeks, with students attending for one hour each week.
The classes are designed to give kids new Btools for their tool chestC for dealing with anger and coping with the stresses of life, Molyneux said. And they?re not just for kids with frequent tantrums.
BI think all kids could benefit from these classes,C said Esterlee Molyneux, director of the center. BEveryone gets angry.C
It?s OK to feel angry, but it?s important to respond to it in good ways to avoid ending up like the film canister, Anderson told the students during Wednesday?s class. Hurting others, yourself or property is not OK, she said. Instead, you can walk away from the situation, tell someone how you?re feeling or use a variety of other techniques to stay in control.
The lessons include video clips, songs, games and other activities. A scene from BToy StoryC demonstrates some of the physical signs that you?re getting angry. A song, BIf You?re Angry and You Know It,C details methods for dealing with frustrations. The syllabus lists topics for upcoming classes including dealing with bullies, tattling versus telling and communicating anger appropriately.
Each class ends with Anderson assigning homework for the students and parents to do together during the week. The homework reinforces what students have learned.
BI think that with the help of parents we can make a lasting difference,C Anderson said.
The curriculum may seem simple, but the skills it conveys are important for kids to gain, Molyneux said. The stresses of childhood can be just as overwhelming for kids as larger problems are for adults, she said.
The classes are part of the center?s mission to strengthen families and protect children, Molyneux said. As with all the center?s services, they are open to anyone. Molyneux said the classes are growing in popularity; the fall session of the class is already full. Based on feedback, children and parents usually enjoy the classes, she said.
BMost of them are grateful. They wish the class would last longer,C she said.
The center also provides parenting classes, professional counseling for abuse victims, as well as a 24-hour nursery to care for children who need a place to stay because of family crises or when a parent needs more support.