mom helping daughter tie shoesSharon Scott, LPC, LMFT – Helping Kids Express Emotions – 

My paternal grandmother, Audrey McFarland Scott, used to say to me, Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill. This past week I asked two elementary-age clients if they knew what that saying meant. Neither one had heard it before.

So I drew, as best as I could, a house with a tree next to it. Under the house I put some tunnels and drew a mole crawling in them. I then added a mountain in the background. I asked what would happen to the ground when the mole decided to come up to see what’s going on. Obviously, a little mound of dirt would appear as he pushed through the land,a mole hill. I noted the large mountain in the picture and explained that our problems can be small (a mole hill) or large (a mountain).

I was teaching these two over-reactors (a 3rd grade boy and a 1st grade girl) that our emotions need to match the problems. Crying a long time, yelling, and intense anger are inappropriate for mole hills. In counseling terms, this is called catastrophizing. And that is exactly what these two kids do. That very week the boy had disrupted his family’s entire evening by his angry outbursts and tears because he had forgot to bring home one homework sheet. A better use of energy could have been spent on thinking of a solution (calling a friend for a copy of the sheet or thinking of how to explain this to his teacher). It turned out that the teacher accepted his true excuse the next day and let him finish the paper during recess. A lot of misery for naught.

I asked the girl to name a few examples of mountains and a few mole hills. For mountains she replied, when your dog dies and you get another dog and he dies within 5 minutes. I agreed with her that would definitely be a mountain. Her mole hills included finding that your mother had forgotten to pack a dessert in your lunch bag or getting dirt on your homework paper.

Both were beginning to understand that our thoughts control our feelings. Therefore, if we manage our thoughts appropriate to the severity of the problem then we won’t have wasted energy and unnecessary bad feelings.

Feel free to draw a mole hill and a mountain for your child and explain the difference. I have absolutely no artistic ability so I’m sure yours will be better drawn, doesn’t matter though because the point is in the story!

Copyright © 2014, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.

P. S. Please see my other column The Counselor’s Corner.

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Sharon Scott

Sharon Scott

Sharon is the author of eight award-winning books including four on the topic of peer to peer pressure.

The guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.

Her popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out,not just fit in!

A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.

Sharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and "co-authored" with her savvy cocker spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun.Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled Too Smart for Trouble.
Sharon Scott

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