Children learn best through play, so when you address really big issues with your children I recommend having an interactive approach to teaching your lesson. “Jedi training” can be utilized at several points within your child’s development. It can be used as a foundational teaching for self-control that is proactive in helping your child learn effective life skills. The training can also be used to help a struggling child learn how to utilize more effective skills. Finally, it can be used to help teach siblings how to develop effective interpersonal skills.
First, it is important that your child understand who a Jedi is, which I accomplish through a list on a white board. I ask the children I work with to tell me about the characteristics of a Jedi, and modify language to align with age-appropriateness. For me, I dress in costume to help the children engage more fully in the activity, and I tell them they must earn their light saber. That typically gets them to pay attention a little more eagerly if they struggle with attention.
Next, I utilize yoga poses from the Yoga Pretzel cards to help the children find “the force” within them. The Yoga Pretzel cards can be used with modified names that reflect Jedi training. For example, I start with breathing cards and work my way up to more difficult poses. One of the breathing poses is called elephant breath and requires moving your arms up and down while clasped together to form a trunk. Instead of a trunk, I ask the children to hold on to their training light saber. As they swing their arms upward, I tell them they are charging their light saber. As they swing their arms downward, I tell them they are using their light saber. Charging the light saber is breathing in and using the light saber is breathing out.
When I get to the more difficult poses that require balance there are often children who become disruptive. The poses require more concentration which is challenging for most of us. When disruption happens, I make a statement about how a strong Jedi notices the distractions around them but can remain focused on what is happening with themselves by accessing “the force”. I reinforce the concept by stating a good Jedi has self-control. Be sure to explain that this task is hard for everyone, including adults. Normalizing a struggle gives children hope that they can master it and not feel so isolated in attempts to conquer it.
After the children have been able to master some level of control over their physical bodies they will be ready to focus on control of their emotional and interpersonal functioning. The first step is for them to identify everything that gets them into trouble or causes them problems at home, school, extra-curricular activities, and other contexts. Just like when adults solve problems, kids will not know how to get started until the problem is defined.
I use a dragon activity I learned through training from Heartland Play Therapy Institute, so I cannot post the directions here. You can use whatever dragon template you would like to represent a dragon though. Pinterest likely has some good ones. I know they have dragon faces for coloring pages and other purposes. I have the children write out each situation that gets them in trouble on their dragon. I also have them write what causes them to become angry, anxious, sad, worried, or afraid. If needed, I recommend reading the book “So You’ve Got Dragons?”.
Next, I use a Jedi coloring page, which can be found on Pinterest, to help the children “fight” their dragons. The children cut out their Jedi and write on the backside all the things they need to fight their dragons. Mostly this list comprises coping skills. It is customized to a specific child’s abilities. What coping skills work for them?
Initially, they are responsible for creating their list. If they need help learning coping skills, you can help them brainstorm new and effective ways of preventing their feelings from becoming dysregulated. Instead, they can use their emotions as information to help them make healthy decisions rather than being controlled by them. This activity helps them become aware of their own ability to solve their problems as well as learning to ask for help.
Now, what would Jedi training be without an epic battle? Light sabers can be made out of paper towel rolls. One should be colored red and the other green. Red is for the Sith Lord. Green is for the Jedi Master. The children take turns being either the Sith Lord or the Jedi Master. Select a dragon. The Sith Lord tells the dragon all the poor choices to make while the Jedi Master tells the dragon the healthy choices to make. It is a good role-playing game to help the children think, literally, on their feet about how they should respond when they become upset. Do not be surprised if the children ask to fight YOU!
May The Force be with you all!