I’m telling you, this emotion coaching stuff friggin’ rocks.

Today at the preschool where I work as a parent teacher (it’s a co-op), a little boy’d refused to move from the play area.

Our teacher, Ms J, was at her wits’ end and decided that we would have to ‘gently’ remove him if necessary as not to distract the other kids who were having storytime nearby. Who was charged with this Very Important task, but yours truly? And so, with the help of this other tiny woman who looked as if she would rather eat flies than to force a willful child to do what he clearly did not wish to do, we set off to try and convince little R to vacate the playhouse.

Up in the tiny structure, the boy sat tightly balled up and staring into a corner, sniffing and heaving. Evidently, prior negotiations had failed. We tried talking a little but threatened by the prospect of being forcibly removed by a couple of mommies, the boy clearly was not going to give up without a good fight.

After about five minutes of what seemed like two ladies making soothing sounds to a wall, the other lady decided to call the boy’s mom. Left alone with little R, I decided to try some of the emotional coaching tips I’d read from the book.

I started with talking about what I thought he was feeling. Anger at being touched, feelings of missing his mom, fear of strangers, that sort of thing. Everything bounced off him for a while. Without giving up, I started to talk about my mother being thousands of miles away, and how I’d wish she was around as well sometimes, so that I could do the things that I’d want to do (for reasons other than emotional security, of course).

I could see that he slowly began to take interest in what I was saying. Whether it was him being amused at my also feeling these emotions or that perhaps the way I spoke was so different he just had to listen, he slowly loosened up.

And then I spoke about the things that I liked to do to feel better whenever I was feeling a little down. I asked about what he had planned for the weekend, to which he simply shook his head, and then I told him what we usually did after school, so as to get him to instead focus on that. Still nothing.

And then I told him that Rae, my daughter, would play her PSP and her XBOX.

THAT got his attention.

“What games does she play?”

FINALLY. Little did little R know that video games were my specialty.

We talked for a good ten minutes about the types of video games I liked, and the ones Rae liked, and lastly, the ones he liked. We even talked about his favourite cartoon, Toy Story, which as Emeril Lagasse likes to say, made him real happy.

With all the talking, I finally got a little thirsty, so I told Little R that I needed to get a drink.

“I’m hungry,” said little R.

Bingo.

“Would you like to come with Ms Jenn to the kitchen?”

“Sure!”

And so, parent teacher and little pupil walked hand-in-hand to the kitchen. Amid the congratulatory nods and relieved smiles from Ms J and other parents, I could not help feeling a little proud of myself this morning. To think that had this happen two weeks ago, I might’ve just brought the playhouse down trying to wrestle the poor boy out.

Knowledge. It’s empowering. 

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go talk a 22-month old into keeping her clothes on.