Activity time: 10 minutes
Description of Activity
This activity invites youth to burn off some physical steam by silently demonstrating a temper tantrum thrown by a small child. Its purpose is to introduce the topic of emotional outbursts without asking youth to talk about their own most temperamental moments. This leads to a discussion about controlling negative emotions.
Ask youth to silently act out a two-year-old's temper tantrums. Depending on available time and the size of the group, you might have them perform one at a time or all at once. Note as you begin that not all two-year-olds act out in the same way. Some may be very physical and others may just sit in some angry pose letting the world know that everything is wrong.
When all have settled down, say that having temper tantrums is normal for two-year-olds. Many little kids have them and we do not consider the children immoral or unethical. However, we expect older people to control themselves better. Nobody thinks it is right for adults to have temper tantrums. Ask the group how old most people are before they stop losing their temper frequently. Through discussion, help your youth come to understandings like these:
Many people have occasional bad moods all through their lives. In fact, it would be difficult for most people to smile all the time. Life can be hard, with all sorts of pressures; most of us occasionally feel badly until time passes, things change, and we begin to see that life is not all bad. People who get very angry or violent or who suffer from frequent mood swings should get help from a professional counselor or a doctor. If somebody's anger is hurting themselves or other people, it is time to do something about it. You can have problems and still be a virtuous person who does many good things. Nevertheless, ignoring your problems is wrong, especially if the problems hurt you or other people.
Ask participants how they go about controlling themselves. Suggest this scenario: "Imagine that you are angry at a family member and a friend shows up at the door. You do not want your friend to see you angry, so you have to change your mood immediately. How do you do it?" Say that sometimes how we feel and act is a mystery even to us. If we can solve the mystery, we can control ourselves better.
Personalize this discussion as much as you think will be appropriate and helpful for your group, but do not pry into the emotional lives of participants. You might ask if any of them sometimes have bad moments and lose their temper. Spend more time discussing how the youth have learned and are learning to control themselves.
Including All Participants
Allow all participants to act out silent temper tantrums if they wish. Do not assume that people with limited mobility will not find this activity amusing or will be unable to express themselves physically.