September 07, 2011

How Star Wars Can Help Kids Survive Childhood Conflicts and Fear

Kids can be mean. Conflicts arise.

I can help. 

What, you say? How can light-saber wielding aliens help my kids learn how to resolve conflict?

Suspend your disbelief and read on.

Once upon a time, The Boy had a wonderful therapist named Tom. He was kind and helpful and had a fond desire to touch The Boy's oh-so-prominent ears (for luck, I assume). It's not like he was fondling them - just a little tweak would make the guy laugh.

The Boy had himself some sticking-out ears. 

See what I mean? Kindergarten pic
He's sort of grown into them by now.

Anyway, therapist Tom was working with The Boy on his anger resolution, conflict management and anxiety issues.

Therapist Tom was a big fan of mnemonics...and Star Wars.

As a public service, I'm listing the tips he gave. Use the money I've saved you on therapy to buy a nice dessert or treat for the kids, okay?

STAR - Anger management

S - Stop
When you first feel angry, just stop for a minute. 

T - Think
Don't act impulsively (usually gets you in trouble). Think of some possible actions that may help lessen your anger.

A - Act
Act appropriately. If your first attempt isn't successful, then...

R - Revise
Try another appropriate action.

WARS - Conflict Resolution

W - Walk away from the person who is bothering you.
Sometimes just walking away from someone who is bugging you is enough to end the conflict.

A - Ask the person to please stop bugging you.
Be firm, but polite. Sometimes this works.

R - Request help from an adult.

If the kid who is bugging you just won't quit even after you walk away, then ask an adult whom you trust to help you.

S - Self-defense (but only as a last resort).
If a kid is physically hurting you, and none of the other steps you've tried have worked, then it is okay to defend yourself. It is NEVER right to hit first.

The Boy had a real anxiety about sleeping in his own room. He imagined any number of bad things could happen during the night.

For this problem, therapist Tom took the logical route. He and The Boy went to the computer and opened up the calculator. Here's what I remember of their conversation:

T: "Boy, how old are you?"
B: "I'm seven."
T: "Okay, let's select 7 on the calculator. You've been alive seven years. Since there are 365 days in a year, let's multiply to see how many days you've been alive. The answer 2, 555. You've gone to sleep 2,555 times."
B: "Wow, that's a lot of days."
T: "Boy, of those 2,555 nights, how many times has something bad happened to you when you were sleeping?"
B: "Uhhh...none?"
T: "Then what makes you think that something bad will happen to you tonight? You've had seven years without any bad things, and that should continue."

It really helped. I'd remind The Boy of the calculator tip on nights that we was afraid to go to sleep by himself. Of course, he'd want me to get the calculator so I could give him the EXACT number of days he's been hanging out on this planet.

Anything to give me a rest from the constant demands help him get to sleep, ya know?

Therapist Tom's mnemonic? FEAR
F - Feeling anxious or afraid?
E - Expecting bad things to happen?
A - Think about how things have ACTUALLY been.
R - Relax as best you can.

Therapist Tom was The Boy's first (and best, in my opinion) therapist over the years. I've passed on Tom's STAR WARS tips to teachers, therapists and school counselors.

His helpful tips are one force that will be with you when trouble arises for your children.


  1. Those are awesome tips. Even for me as an adult. Especially the Walk away one..

  2. Therapist Tom sounds fantastic. I could use him too!!

    And the Boy's photo from kindergarten is ADORABLE!! Love it!

  3. Therapist Tom was an angel on earth. Great tips. Hope things have smoothed out.

  4. Again, I'm wondering if you've had his hormone levels tested. Sending you a prayer.


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