There is a little story that I use all the time in teaching…(well technically I am still subbing.) I find a use for it daily.
I begin my tale by asking the child to tell me their favourite animal. I like baby penguins, thus for this example I will select them. I tell them to imagine they have two baby penguins that live on top of their shoulders. I say, “You know what this baby penguin eats?” In amazement they shake their heads side to side reflecting that they have no idea.
As I respond, I point to the imaginary animal on their shoulder, “This one eats all the bad thoughts that you have in your head. He loves thoughts like, I am no good. No body loves me. You should stop trying, you will never succeed.” (I try to use phrases that the child expressed.)
Then I point to the opposite shoulder where the other imaginary penguin resides. I question, “Do you know what this one eats?” No they shake their heads accordingly. I say, “This one loves to eat thoughts like, “Keep making mistakes, you will get it soon. I am a good person. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says I am beautiful.” Then I often try and get them to create their own statements.
All this work for the big final question. “Do you know who decides which baby penguin gets fed?” Seldom are the children aware of this answer. With a big dramatic reveal I say, “Listen closely, because some adults don’t even know the answer to this question”. I might also add,”When I was your age I didn’t know this either.”
Then I point to the child and I say, “YOU DECIDE! YOU get to decide with every thought which penguin gets fed. YOU have the power to feed whichever one you want, whenever you want to.”
It is hard when other people try to feed your penguins. But if you can remember the simple truth of this story I promise you will be happier. Just because a thought arrives doesn’t mean we have to invite it to tea and serve it snacks. We can recognize it by who it feeds and then gently choose to nourish the proper penguin.
What two animals live on your shoulders? Which one will be fed? It is the Christmas season, so let the feasting begin!