Our children are all unique but we all share the human experience of emotions. I think as parents (or teachers) we all also share a deep desire to find ways to support our children through feelings. The ability to self-regulate is a developmental process that spans a lifetime.
Within the space of a counselling room and with my own children at home, I have used emotion cards to open dialogues that surround emotional wellbeing. Normalising such conversations and fostering a space unwavering support for my child, that looks beyond the external expression of an emotion in one given time. Exploring emotions through play is a gentle way to introduce such dialogue. Here are some simple games or activities you could explore with your little ones;
1) Turn the cards upside down and flip over each one naming the emotion. Talk about what facial features show us what the feeling is or take turns selecting a card and imitating the emotion for others to guess.
2) Take turns selecting a card, name the emotion and thinking of a situation that might make someone feel that way. You could even draw or paint the event or trigger.
3) At the end of the day, take turns to select cards that show all of the feelings experienced in that day. Reinforce that it is a normal human experience to feel many different emotions in one day. It is also a worthy reflection that despite how the emotion feels in the moment, all emotions pass and do not last forever.
4) Randomly select cards and name the emotion. Draw around your body on the pavement using chalk then use different coloured chalk for different emotions, to label physical changes in the body. For example, clenched fists when feeling angry or a sore stomach when anxious.
5) Create a visual tool box together. Identify and explore difficult emotions, such as anger or sadness, and draw a picture of what helps your child when they feel this way. For example, meditation might help in times of sadness or going for a walk outside might help when feeling angry. These strategies can be referred back to later and updated when strategies no longer serve or new skills are learnt.
One of the greatest gifts we can offer our children is to hold a space that allows them to release emotions in the safety of your presence.
– photos by @gunnkylie