Welcoming “The Hulk” Into Our World

by | Emotions, Healing, Parenting

Are you familiar with the “Incredible Hulk?”  Ha ha! Silly question, right? If you’re anything like me, your first thought might have been “Yah…I live with him!” Mmm hmmm. So do I! Seriously, though, do you know his story? I’m sure it’s changed over time as newer movies and what not have been released and I haven’t kept up with them…because, well…see that first paragraph. I did, however grow up watching the original TV series with my dad and sisters. Those were good times! 
original hulk

Back in the day, the story was that Dr. David Banner, a brilliant scientist, attempted to harness the powers of human strength and accidentally overdosed on Gamma radiation in the process.  The result of that experiment-gone-wrong was that every time he got angry or scared, he turned into a big, rage filled, growling green monster known as “The Hulk.” Yah…um…that’s kind of what my kids do, too. Thank you very much, trauma!  Anyway, my little darlings have seen a few of these old episodes.  We like The Hulk.  My kids relate very closely to him. They also picked up quite fast on the fact that The Hulk really isn’t a bad guy or even deliberately mean.  Even though he’s judged unfairly by society and most of the world doesn’t get him at all, underneath all that huffing and puffing, he’s really a tender-hearted guardian and a protector who only ever goes after the bad guys.

Our new favorite therapeutic tools…

We recently came across some new therapeutic play tools.  We saw them in the store a few months ago.  They were spendy enough that I didn’t just want them sitting around before we could and would really use them effectively.  At first, I made all kinds of excuses of “why not”. As we were out and about doing our regular shopping the other day, my sweeties reminded me that I had told them we could get these items once a certain large job was finished.  Since it finally was, and they had all helped in getting things cleaned up, I had no qualms about it. And what were these said items, you ask?  They are “Hulk” gear…an awesome hard plastic sturdy mask (not the flimsy disposable Halloween ones) and some foam “Smashing Fists.”

About those BIG feelings…

It’s no secret that big feelings reign supreme around here. Those feelings have to go somewhere and WILL be expressed whether we want them to be or not. I believe it’s very important for us to acknowledge these feelings, give them appropriate space and places for safe expression, and accept that big feelings are valid, real, and are driven by something that is often bigger than ourselves. In shore, big feelings are nothing more than a reaction to things that are bigger than we are. The trick is finding non-destructive, non-hurtful ways to both express them and allow them to diminish.  These two *fabulous* little items are already proving to be immensely helpful in both.

Becoming “The Hulk”

As soon as we saw these little gems, we all knew we needed them. We needed to give ourselves an opportunity to actually become “The Hulk”  and do what he does in a safe environment. There is much power to be found in suiting up and then being able to safely express those really big feelings in a way that feels OK for everyone. So, when those big feelings hit, the kids can go put on the mask and the fists and scream and growl and smash whatever they want…as long as they stay in the designated safe zones and/or are being supervised by mom or dad.

We’ve discovered another Hulk-sized benefit to these little gems, though. It is pretty darn hard to stay mad when you’re dressed like the Hulk.  Yes, the person wearing the garb might find some initial power in temporarily becoming something bigger than themselves…but the people who are on the other end and are seeing the mask and gloves simply can’t help but laugh.  In fact, I bet you laughed when you saw these pictures! 🙂  You’re welcome! In reality, laughter is also what dissipates and diffuses anger and turns negative situations around faster than anything.

Realizing this, we did take the opportunity to have some fun with The Hulk yesterday.  Daddy was taking a nice Sunday afternoon nap.  It was time for him to wake up, though.  What better alarm could there be than to have one of his precious sweeties, all dressed up in the hulk gear, come in and gently say “Daddy, I have some big feelings!”  Yes, there was much giggling when Daddy woke up and jumped 10 feet off the bed as he realized The Hulk standing over him!

Kids aren’t the only ones with big feelings!

Guess what?  It isn’t just kids who have big feelings that are bigger than they are or bigger than they know how to handle. Big people do, too. Sometimes, even after all these years, (and more often than I care to admit, actually) I still find myself wanting to scream and yell and smash something.  I, too, need a safe outlet for my own big feelings.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned over hte years is that it really is OK for kids to know that moms and dads have feelings, and sometimes they have very big feelings.  Sometimes they need to know their behavior contributes to those feelings, to. More than anything, though, our kids need us as parents to model how to safely express and manage those big feelings…and how to fix our mistakes when we blow it.

So yah, at least in my book, it’s perfectly acceptable for parents to use the hulk gear, too and it’s way more than OK for our kids to see us wearing it.  We’ve already seen these new tools effectively send a very clear message, but at the same time diffuse situations that could have otherwise quickly spiraled out of control and left all of us feeling horrible. And at least in my book, that sure beats the alternative of mass contention and chaos!

Original post published October, 2012
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