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Emily Adams

Psychology 634
Fall 2014
Group Summary Paper I
The intended nature of my group of first grade boys was emotional education and
regulation. Two out of five of the boys (Cody and Hunter) tended to shut down in class
when things didnt go their way by either hiding or putting their head in their folded
arms on the table. Two of the other boys (Zachary and Jayden) seemed to handle strong
negative emotions well during class time, and were intended to serve as models for these
two boys who shut down. The remaining boy (Connor) acted out aggressively when he
experienced strong negative emotions and sometimes used his size as a means to get
what he wanted from others.
During our very first meeting we made a list of rules to go by every time we met
for group; wait your turn-raise your hand, stay in your seat, listen to whoever is talking,
etc. I needed something to remind them of these rules and I needed to gain a sense of
control, so I used a plastic ear of corn as the talking stick to discourage them from
interrupting each other. A few weeks later, I began putting beans in a jar when they
showed behaviors in alignment with the rules. If they earned all the beans in the jar
they each received a piece of candy at the very end of the session before they went back
to class. This worked very well until a few months later when Hunter availed himself to
the candy without my approval, began dolling pieces out to others, and smuggled more
in his pockets. So the candy went away as well as the bean jar. It was also around this
time that I divided the group into two groups.
Both Jayden and Hunter are very competitive with each other. They go from
being best friends one day to fighting the next. I noticed their behavior in group was
mostly competitive for my attention. In the beginning when we worked to identify

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feelings, Hunter would crawl under the table and say he was sad. Jayden would soon
join him and say he felt sad as well. Honestly, these boys do have a lot of reasons to be
frequently sad; they both have at least one parent in jail. However, I couldnt manage
their issues they had with each other and split my attention for the three other first
grade boys in the group.
Jayden and Hunter are in the same class, so I spoke with their teacher, and with
her approval I separated the group. Hunter, Cody, and Zachary turned into one group,
while Jayden and Connor were in the other. Jayden and Connor are both first graders
who are big for their age, and I think Connor could definitely benefit from Jaydens
willingness to please adults by using good manners. Connor kind of goes by his own
rules without thinking much about others perspectives. A few weeks after creating
these new groups, Cody left the school. As of now, I have two groups of two boys in
each, otherwise known as couples counseling. However, only having two kids in a
group seemed to cut out a lot of distracting elements for them so they are able to focus
on the lessons we are learning while I can better manage their behaviors.
When they were a group of five, I used a curriculum called Lets Be Buddies,
which is all about how to make friends and how to be sensitive of others feelings. It had
some coloring activities that were also exercises to identifying feelings. There were a lot
of occasions when more than one of them expressed interest in doing something else,
like play with Legos or Candyland. I was open to suggestions from them but only if I
could incorporate a skills lesson into the game.
Meanwhile, I noticed they all had difficulty with waiting their turn, delayed
gratification, or coping tools when something doesnt go their way. Hunter was
especially disappointed that I wouldnt let them play Legos when they asked, so I talked

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to him individually after group and asked how we could talk about feelings using Legos.
I was very surprised he was able to rationally come up with a solution. He proposed
something along the lines of using the Lego men to communicate their feelings to one
another. I decided this was enough to work with, so I obtained Legos and a Lego board
game and introduced it to the five of them the next week when we met for group. The
game allowed them to learn to wait their turn while other group members rolled a die
and moved a Lego guy on the board, then added Legos to a structure were all building
together with each turn. They werent allowed to tell each other where to place a new
Lego block teaching individual decision-making skills, or roll the die before the previous
kid is done placing their block on the structure. With a few reminders about abstaining
from telling each other where to put a block, the activity seemed to go over well with
them, and in the end we had a huge Lego creation we made together.
Toward the beginning, when Hunter frequently crawled under the table, I had no
idea how to address this behavior. With the help of supervision, I communicated to him
that if he needed a minute for personal space, he could join us again when he was ready.
However, he continued to do this like clockwork every time we met, which also
inadvertently encouraged Jayden to do the same in order to get equal attention. I
consulted with Theresa about Hunter since she was familiar with him. She advised me
to tell him that if he chooses to crawl under the table, he is choosing not to participate in
group that day. He has the choice to either join us for group at the table or go back to
class. That seemed to work fairly well. I only needed to use this technique a couple of
times before they both remained seated in their chairs consistently every time our group
met.

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Since the group members didnt respond positively to the Lets Be Buddies
curriculum I frequently thought of new activities that incorporated a lesson they would
benefit from. One week I thought that playing Chutes and Ladders would be a great way
to learn about unfairness and talk about coping tools when we dont win. As soon as I
pulled out the game half of the group rebelled against the activity. I realized that when
we played the Lego game, I may have given the impression that they got to choose the
activity we played. I convinced them to give it a try but it took about 10 minutes. I dont
think I should be the one to decide what we do every week without considering how they
will learn best. I like considering their interests and incorporating these into the lessons
because I believe they will be more engaged. However, I found myself making these
types of decisions because the group was so large they couldnt agree on anything. In all
future groups I will limit the number of first graders to 3 or 4, never 5. I dont think they
emotionally grew as much as they could have if put into smaller groups to begin with.
On a positive note, I do think they developed a sense of camaraderie that they carried
away from group, especially among those who were not in the same class.
In the current two groups of two I have been able to cater more to specific
reasons for referral and try to highlight their strengths that I hope the other will learn
from. For example, since Jayden is a more consistent listener than Connor, we recently
focused on listening skills to help Connor see what these skills look like in a boy his age
and who he is friends with. Another example is since Hunter is usually more confident
than Zachary, we played feelings charades where they act out a feeling given to them.
Zachary was embarrassed to do it in the beginning but with positive encouragement and
recognizing he is in a safe place, he was able to overcome and join us with more

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confidence. I will continue to meet with these two pairs separately and will continue to
address specific areas pertinent to their personal growth.