Drum out your frustrations

As adults many of us have heard of, or experienced firsthand, the therapeutic release of anger and hostility through punching bags, pillow fights, or rubber bats. For a child, the opportunity to bang on a drum and actually hear and feel his frustration being released can be just as effective.

No matter what our age, feelings and emotions are a part of our daily lives. Situations arise where we have to figure out what triggered our feelings, and then we have to handle those emotions. One particular eight year old boy, I’ll call “Ben,” had a life changing experience during a drumming session.

Ben’s emotions were triggered by something one of his peers said during a drumming activity. He became quiet and tears started rolling down his face. I noticed the change in his mood and asked, “What happened?” After he explained it was time to coach Ben so he could continue to participate‒for his team members and for himself. As I began, the other 11 students were messing around and were not aware of the situation with Ben. I intervened, got their attention, requested that they give us four minutes to help guide Ben back to the group. Setting a timer made the effort more real to them. All 11 students were now focused and stood in line patiently with eager ears. I explained, “This is not about the talent show performance; it is about real life. What you get out of this experience today you can learn from and carry throughout your lives.”

Now, I needed to help Ben recover and want to participate for himself. It took all four minutes to make Ben aware of the situation, and then he stood up and walked to get in line with his peers.

During the session, Ben experienced of his different feelings in just the four minutes of drumming. With tears still rolling down his face, at first he refused to drum. With some encouragement, he began to drum sadly, then he moved on to drumming with so much anger that I thought that he was going to break the drum. Then he became sad again. As he sat next to me, I quietly urged him to “Let it out.” When the four minutes were over I noticed that the child who initially made the upsetting comment was quietly counting on her fingers. I asked her, “What are you doing?”

She replied, “Ben went through all the different emotions.”

I asked, “How do you know about that?”

She said, “Because I go through all those feeling at home when my brother picks on me.”

This helped her to realize that what her brother does to her at home does not need to be acted out in school or other settings. Now being aware of her own feelings, and the part she played in Ben’s, she deeply understood first hand and acknowledged what transpired during our drumming session.