Updated: Jan 11
Guess what that means?!
You got it! The release of the next three tools in the Mission: Control! Toolkit!
If you’re new to my little corner of the internet, read Part 1 and Part 2 to catch up on what we’ve been doing with this simple, easy-to-use, effective tool for helping kids (ahem, and adults) navigate their Big Feelings.
How to Use the Mission: Control! Toolkit
If you read the previous two parts, then you’ve got a good handle on how I use the Mission: Control! Toolkit in my practice.
But here’s a little refresher anyway:
Kids get lectures all the time. In a moment of Big Feelings, rather than trying to reason your child’s feelings into something manageable, you can pull out your toolkit and let your child choose which one they’d like to utilize. The Mission: Control! Toolkit lets your child decide how they will work to restore calm to their mind and body. This also redirects your child from their Big Feelings to one of play.
When something feels “too much” for your kiddo, reach for your toolkit and let your child choose just the right tool for managing those Big Feelings. If needed, help your child consider which tool will help them feel most in control. Let your child’s creativity shine by allowing them to assign meaning to the tools to best serve their immediate (or future) needs!
Now, onto what you’ve been waiting for…
The Next Three Tools
My toolkit has a set of walkie-talkies. There are multiple ways these little walkie-talkies
can support your child.
Kids can talk through the walkie-talkie with a caring adult (or friend) who can share their calm with them.
Kids can pretend to “phone a friend” and imagine a conversation in which they talk through their Big Feelings or imagine a compassionate friend listening and caring.
Kids can share a walkie-talkie with a favorite toy who is having big feelings. Your child can share their calm with the upset toy.
There are many ways walkie-talkies can be used to support a child, both in the middle of Big Feelings and in preparation for possible Big Feelings in the future. Ask your kiddo how they might envision using the walkie-talkies when their feelings seem “too big.” Kids are great about thinking “outside the box.”
My toolkit also has a laser. While lasers are all the rage for self-entertainment with cats, they also have quite the use in supporting your child!
Kids can use the laser to snap out of Big Feelings and activate willpower. When they click the laser button, they can imagine the switch in their brain that activates their willpower.
Kids can find someone to help them “flip the switch” on the laser if it’s hard for them to do it themselves. In my book, Mission: Control! A Big Feelings Adventure!, Joseph needed the support of a good friend to help flip the switch for his W.I.L.L. Power. Your child can practice asking for help to activate their willpower.
Kids can use the laser to point at things in the room that help them feel calm. If they’re in Big Feelings, they may need some prompts. “Does your lovey help you feel calm? Let’s point your laser at lovey and see what happens.” You can talk about things around the home (or classroom or office) that help bring calm before Big Feelings are activated. This relies less on your child’s cognitive function (which isn’t available during Big Feelings) and more on the sensory act of pointing to calming
Don’t miss the opportunity to ask your child how they might envision using the laser when their feelings seem “too big.” There is no end to the possibilities!
My toolkit also has a small flashlight. A flashlight has a variety of uses in supporting your child.
Kids can use the flashlight to help them find their way. You can turn off the lights and let your child practice letting the light guide them and consider how a light might also help show them the way through Big Feelings.
Kids can use the flashlight to feel courageous. The dark (and Big Feelings) can feel scary… but a light gives us a tool to use against our fear! Feeling equipped to handle a challenge is powerful to our fight or flight survival system. Helping kids find their sense of courage is huge. The flashlight is a way to practice feeling equipped and brave to face any obstacle.
Kids can use the flashlight to scare away the problem. For sure HypnoZoids run from the light, and I hear many other problems do too. Allow your child to use the flashlight to practice scaring away any threats. They can also use the flashlight to find solutions. The light scares away the challenges and reveals the solutions!
Just like with every tool, ask your child how they might use the flashlight to help them navigate challenges and Big Feelings. Listen with curiosity and openness. Kids are great at creative connections to these tools!
How to Build Your Own Mission: Control! Toolkit
It’s so simple!
None of the tools need to be expensive or fancy. Some people even print and laminate images of the tools… choose whatever is most accessible to you and still allows you to give the child in your home, classroom, or office an opportunity to practice self-regulation. You can get many of the items from a local discount store or an online wholesale store. You can use a basket, bin, bag, or toolbox… again, whatever is accessible and supportive. The main thing is that kids understand that each item is a hearty weapon for overcoming life obstacles!
You have an opportunity to introduce this kind of play and imagination into your child’s bank of resources. This is what develops resilience in children. The myth that kids are resilient based on their age is just that… a myth. They need life experience and empathetic adults in their life to allow them to learn, grow, develop, and increase the number of tools in their “toolbox.”
The examples listed above are just that: examples. I want to save you time and energy as you put together your own toolkit, but it’s just a starting point. Feel free to add your own items, let kids determine their own unique use for each item, and build your own arsenal of good in times of Big Feelings.
When you start your own Mission: Control! Toolkit for your home, classroom, or office, I’d love to see pictures! If you send me a picture with your toolkit, with your permission, I’ll share it on my social media and in my newsletter to celebrate our community-building resilience in kiddos together.
Thank you for all of the intentional, committed, caring work you do with and for kids every day. Whether they’re your biological children, bonus children, students, clients, neighbors, whoever… the kids of our world need us to show up in honor of their growth and journey. We owe it to our future. So thank you!
Stay tuned for the next three tools in August!