hmmmmmmmmm.......: more horrifying concepts from the real world

Friday, January 27, 2006

more horrifying concepts from the real world

From the catalog "Childswork, Childsplay: Essential Resources for Counselors and Educators," a few choice entries:

The Positive Thinking Game
Ages 9 & Up. This exceptional therapeutic game maintains the premise that thought is the source of many of our emotional states. By becoming more aware of our self-talk and cognitive responses to situations, we can better control or select our emotions. Helpful in addressing emotional difficulties such as anxiety, depression, anger and low self-esteem. For 2 - 6 players.

Oh, well, if depressed kids could just "control or select" their emotions they'd be just fine! Repression is a wonderful way to cope with stress! So next time Daddy is beating Mommy, just repeat to yourself, "I can choose to be happy" over and over. If you do it real loud, you might drown out the sound.

Winning at Loss
*NEW!* Ages 6-13. Designed to help guide children through the grief process, this game uses open-ended questions to facilitate discussion about: dealing with the shock; admitting the reality of the loss; feeling the pain of loss; adjusting to life after loss; and rebuilding for the future. Comes with two sets of cards & a facilitators' booklet.

How wonderful—instead of years of pain and suffering, now (new!) we can help kids zip through the whole grief process in the time it takes to play a quick board game. I'm sure if they're having trouble "admitting the reality of the loss" that reading a special card with an "open-ended question" will really help them accept reality.

Monster Stomp Game
Ages 4 & Up. Help children gain control over things that scare them with this nonthreatening, fun-filled game. Kids mold and then stomp monsters as they travel from room to room in the goofy, monster-filled house. As players stomp monsters, they get to collect them in the monster jail.

This one is horrifying in so many ways that I don't know where to begin. A monster-filled house? What fun for a four-year-old! And how can this game give you control over things that scare you if they are things you can't control? "This monster is called 'Mommy's drinking,' this monster is called 'Daddy killed my kitten'...." This is insane. For extra fun, explain the "monster jail" to children who are anxious because a parent is in prison.

The Upside Down Divorce Game
Ages 6-12. Most children don't want to talk about divorce, but this game makes talking easy. As they go around the colorful board, they flip their playing pieces upside down. To turn them right side up, they have to learn new coping and communication skills. Children are also express positive feelings about themselves and their future.

Am I the only one that thinks this sounds like absolute torture?

OK, enough with the extended commentary... I'll just leave you with a few of the choice titles:

  • Maybe Days: A Book for Children in Foster Care

  • Finding the Right Spot: When Kids Can't Live With Their Parents

  • Why Are You So Sad? - A Child's Book About Parental Depression

  • Sammy's Mommy Has Cancer

  • The Year My Mommy Was Bald

  • Why Did You Die?

(those last four could really be read as a series, don't you think? Oh, I know, I'm evil)

  • Anger Bingo For Teens (???)

  • Rufus, The Bear With Diabetes

  • Blink, Blink, Clop, Clop: Why Do We Do Things We Can't Stop? (for kids with OCD)

Oh, god, I can't take it anymore!

I just had to post this since I'm trying to clean up a bit and this obviously has to go in the recycling bin! Now!


Franklin said...

Oh, please tell me you are made this up.

They need one for kids who are too driven by their competitive parents to succeed, in which everybody loses no matter how hard they try.

Faustus, MD said...

Blink, Blink, Clop, Clop . . . oh, my God. If I had had that book as a child, I'm sure I'd be even worse off now than I am.

Rachel said...

I don't know, as a kid who had a depressed mother who could hardly get out of bed, a father who just left for no reason I could understand and whose grandmother got cancer and lost all her hair right at the same time, I think it would have been nice to have someone to talk to about it. Some actual explanation as to what was happening and potentially some skill building and/or tools that would help me feel as if I at least had some control in the situation would have made the world seem less terrifying. I think there needs to be a balance between validating emotions in a situation and helping people feel less powerless. And there is a fine line between coddling children and giving them the skills they need to be more resilient when facing really awful situations in life. A lot of times it seems that we just want people to know how to deal with things, but we don't help them learn how to do so. Sounds to me like the intentions of these things are admirable even if they sound a little hokey. Personally, some of the most valuable things I accomplished in therapy were through the activities that seemed basic and silly and made me want to roll my eyes. After a few big break throughs via those methods, I stopped rolling my eyes.

goblinbox said...

Well... I don't know shit about kids with problems nor with modern board, uh, 'games,' but holy hell.

Just, holy hell.

birdfarm said...

Franklin, love your addition--"in which everybody loses no matter how hard they try"--indeed! Perfection! For those who haven't seen it be sure to check out Franklin's extended riff on this theme, at the end ofthis post.

Dr. Faustus, I included that one just especially for you, so I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Rachel, I totally agree, you're absolutely right, and I've had the same experience w therapy & thinking "that sounds silly" and having it not be silly at all.

It's not that I think it's hokey, or that I don't think that there are many fine counselors out there caring for hurt children with these useful tools. But... what is it...

Well, I guess there were two things that bugged me about this was the tone of all the copy...the hard-sell attitude totally obliterated any hint of kindness or empathy, making a mockery out of the products. The other thing was the way actual real-life counselors are too often like this themselves--closed-off, trying to help kids without any connection or empathy (child has diagnosis x so apply treatment z), which also makes a mockery out of the products, and the problems, and the child.

But yes, point well taken--it's certainly better to have a book called "The Year My Mommy Was Bald" than to be told lies or worse, nothing at all when a parent is going through cancer or another rough time.

Mush, well, if you actually think about it, yes, holy hell indeed.

Rachel said...

I so completely hear you about the tone and the hard-sell that seems to completely remove the actual child from the equation. It is as if they (the producers of the products and/or catalog writers and/or therapists) would rather have a robot sitting there who would respond exactly the way they want/need them to so they can put it all down as some statistic that "proves" how helpful their product is -- more marketing and sales broohaha than actual helping going on.