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Recommended Reading (6) - The Case of the Lost Temper

Updated: Jan 31, 2020

Featured on the Hong Kong Economic Journal (September 1, 2016)

I like books that can teach a moral lesson and if the book can make me laugh, then even better! This book, ‘The Case of the Lost Temper: A Lesson in Self Control’ does just that. A humorous book that’s part of the VeggieTales series by Doug Peterson, it is a book that is suitable for children ages 3 to 8 years old.

Bob the Tomato is a detective and goes out with his partner Larry the Cucumber to solve a case. During their journey, Bob gets annoyed, then upset, then angry at different unfortunate things that happen. And Bob the Tomato doesn’t have very good self-control so he loses his temper. He furrows his brows, starts bubbling up in frustration and ends up exploding in anger.

What he later realizes is that this bursts of temper and anger ends up hurting himself and others. All those situations gave him reason to be upset but his expression of anger wasn’t constructive.

This story is a great way to teach children that it’s okay to be upset over certain situations but it’s not okay to express those emotions in a way that hurt others or ourselves. It’s important that children know that it’s okay to feel different emotions but it’s how they are handled that is most important. So, at JEMS, we teach children that there are positive emotions (such as happy, joyful, content), neutral emotions (such as curious, shy) and negative emotions (angry, sad, frustrated) and that none of them are bad in and of themselves. If someone takes something precious away from us, it’s okay to be angry and hurt. But it’s not okay to shout at the person and kick them out of our anger. The emotion is valid but the action is not warranted.

But even before we get to looking at the actions that are instigated by emotions, children need to learn some steps about emotions first:

1) Recognition of emotions – the ability to recognize the words that are associated with emotions and when a person would feel that emotion. There are great books for children that teach on the names of the different emotions, when a person may feel it and how it makes them feel physically and emotionally. For example, books teach children about the feeling of ‘happy’ might explain that when something good happens, we feel happy, makes us feel like jumping up and down and puts a smile on our face.

2) Identification of emotions – beyond just recognizing what an emotion is, the next step is to be able to identify what emotion we have at any given point. It’s not just about knowing what happiness looks and feels like but to recognize when we are feeling happy. This requires a certain level of self-awareness to be able to identify what we are feeling at a particular point.

3) Expression of emotions – perhaps the most challenging of them all is the ability to express the emotions responsibly, and this is obviously more challenging when it comes to negative emotions. Maturity is the ability to have a negative emotion and to be able to express it in a way that isn’t destructive to oneself or others. Children need to be taught that it’s okay to be upset about something but it’s not okay to harm others in their state of being upset.

All the above are socio-emotional skills that are crucial for our children, in their growing and adult years. Studies have shown the impact of socio-emotional skills on personal and relational well-being and these skills should be nurtured from a young age.

So this book is a light-hearted way to introduce the subject to young children and to teach them the important lesson of self-control and how not to lose their temper!


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