I love you
I hate you
I never will marry
nobody but you.
– Jessica, age 4

Children’s language is often quite tangled. Today in the nursery school Jeff was upset that the new teacher had asked him to come back and put away the crayons he’d been using to draw his picture. He had already moved to the porch and was getting busy with another toy and another friend when the teacher bent low in the doorway, and spoke to him. “Whoops Jeff, better come back inside and put your things away so someone else has room to play at the drawing table. I’ll save your spot and you can come right back.” Jeff doesn’t look up or acknowledge the request “Sorry to interrupt you, Jeff, but we really need to leave the table ready for the next person who needs it,” persists the teacher. “Go away,” growls Jeff, head down. “You are a bad teacher!” Now he is on his feet, pouring out “I hate you!  You’re stupid ! Go away you dummy! You are not nice!” Responding not to the words but to the fear, anger, and distrust the teacher says “Oh Boy, Oh Boy, you really don’t know me very well yet, do you? I can see you wish I’d go away and be quiet too I bet.” Another teacher passing by puts her hand on his shoulder, saying “Gosh Jeff, remember, that is our new teacher. You don’t know her very well yet, do you? But you do know about teachers at BlueSkies, don’t you ….They are here to help you and keep you safe, At first people don’t know about friends and then they learn, just like you learned to be friends with Lou Lou and Jamal and with teacher Sue.“ With his head down, and leaning into the familiar teacher, Jeff whispers “I made friends with Bobby too.” “That’s right you know a lot about making friends; I’d forgotten that you and Bobby are friends too. Soon you’ll be friends with the new teacher too! Just like that!” The teacher gives a loud sigh and points out, “I see you are feeling better now Jeffy, your voice is calm and quiet, and your body is relaxed. You are remembering about what a good job you are doing at making new friends. Soon you won’t need to yell and cry at all when new people talk to you. You sure are growing up to be a fine big boy.”
Feelings are so big and overwhelming for even smart, able, verbal little children because they live in the moment. When they are afraid and lashing out it seems like those big feelings will last forever. It is scary to think that these big, sudden, out-of-control feelings could just take over who you are. Often children really don’t know what happened after they got upset, they may hit and kick and bite and then deny that they did, because they are so blinded by the emotion that they really don’t know what they did. That is why after the blow up it is helpful to recount the experience, as this trusted teacher did with Jeff.