Silliness (and how much is too much) is one of the most difficult concepts that we tackle in our groups. So often, silliness is initially an adaptive means of initiating an interaction. But repeating the same silly behavior over and over (and over and over) again, is not so adaptive. This week, we were having one of those days…the kids were feeding off of each other and the silliness was about to take over the entire group. These were 2nd and 3rd graders who are usually pretty responsive to being told the “rules.” So we explained that “silliness is funny one or two times, but then it stops being funny.” A couple of the kids got it, but the silliness instigator was too far gone in his giggles to process. I think that all he saw were our mouths moving and all he heard was “blah, blah, blah.”
Often within our groups, we use a wonderful tool called a Behavior Map which was introduced to us by Michelle Garcia Winner in her wonderful book, Thinking About You Thinking About Me. Behavior Maps essentially help a child or children appreciate the impact that their behavior has on others and the feelings that result. I thought that our silliness problem called for a Behavior Map. I chose to do it visually for greatest impact.
I whipped out my handy dandy Whiteboard app and drew the following, while saying, “this is Bruno. He likes to make people laugh. Today he accidentally kicked off his shoe when kicking a ball in gym and everyone was laughing hysterically…”
At this point the silliness had ceased and everyone was looking attentively at the whiteboard, so I continued, “Bruno thought that all that laughter was great, so he kicked his shoe off at recess, and in the classroom, and in the hallway, and in the cafeteria, and well… anywhere he possible could. Soon all of the kids looked like this…”
Then I asked the boys in the group how Bruno’s friends were feeling, and the silliest one of all said, “annoyed!!” and others said “mad.” When I asked them, “How is Bruno was feeling now?” the lightbulbs went off. For the rest of group, the silliness abated. Here’s hoping those simple drawings will now have meaning when I flash them at the group next week…
By Karen S Head, MS, CCC-SLP