If you work with children, have children, live next door to children, see children in the grocery store, eat in restaurants next to children (OK, you get the point), you know exactly what I mean by “pushing buttons.” I think kids are born with the innate knowledge and skill set for finding out what annoys people and targeting behaviors to get a reaction. I feel like an irritable old woman talking like this but I do believe pushing buttons is one of MY personal buttons! It is so difficult to work with kids in social cognition groups on how to be a good friend while they seek to engage their “friends” by annoying them!
Meghan and I decided to take up this issue in our 2nd grade group the other day in a round about, yet concrete way and I think something may have “clicked” for the kids. We started the group by pulling out the ever-fascinating and engaging iPad. As the kids all clamored to find out what activity we would be doing, we simply asked each student to look at all the games on the iPad and push any button they wanted. After each child took a turn exploring a little we discussed why pushing buttons on the iPad was fun. The kids came up with thoughts such as: it’s fun; we want to see what happens; and we want to do what our friends are doing. We quickly progressed to a discussion on why we push each other’s buttons and discovered, the reasons were the same: it was fun; we wanted to get a reaction; we did it because our friends were doing it.
Each of the students then drew a picture of one thing that pushes their buttons. As we shared the pictures and wrote the “buttons” on the board, each child told how they feel when their button is pushed describing angry or sad feelings or both.
Finally, we routed back to the reasons why we push buttons and asked the kids if they think it’s fun to cause our friends to feel sad or angry. I could almost see the light bulb illuminating above their heads! We concluded the group by playing a board game and reminded the kids that they were working on NOT pushing each other’s buttons. Surprisingly and happily a peaceful, friendly time was had by all!
Submitted by: Jill Perry MHA, M.S. OTR/L