What started out as a simple purchase in our local toy store turned into a series of teachable moments, which allowed my husband and me to discuss a variety of feelings and their origins with our daughters. As they continuously reported what they were feeling (based on the color of their ring), we used the opportunity to explore the multidimensional topics of feelings and emotions.
Some of the questions we asked were:
• Are you really feeling that way?
• When have you felt that way before?
• How do you act when you feel that way?
• What is something you can do to make you feel better when you are feeling like that?
Research suggests that a child’s ability to identify and effectively manage his or her feelings and emotions, not only makes him or her happier, but also leads to higher academic success. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to explore some other possibilities for discussing feelings with children. By proactively introducing children to the vocabulary associated with different feelings in a lighthearted and playful manner, they will be better equipped to communicate with you and deal with their emotions during the more “charged” moments.
Books are an engaging way to introduce new concepts and vocabulary and to stimulate meaningful conversations. Discussing the various characters and how they respond to their emotions can be a very helpful exercise. It also helps to refer back the characters when similar feelings arise in your child. The quick reminder can be a useful trigger to help your child transition from a purely emotional reaction to one that brings more positive results.
Games are another great vehicle for learning about feelings. As I was doing some research for this post, I discovered a wonderful resource called Feeleez on SouleMama’s blog. They have an enlightening explanation on their website that articulately answers the “why” of teaching your children about feelings. They have also created a game and poster that encourages parents and children to explore the wide world of emotions together. The game can be played on many different levels and comes with a guide for parents. The illustrations are charming and appeal to children and adults alike. Associating feelings with their corresponding facial expressions not only helps children learn about themselves, but enables them to more readily pick up on the cues of others, which leads to greater empathy.
Whether it is with books, games, mood rings, eCourses or by other means, discussing emotions and generating ideas for effective ways to deal with them as they arise gives your child a great head start and can bring you closer as a family.
Materials & Resources
- The Put-Ups + Put-Downs eCourse
- The Heart-Brain Connection (video via edutopia)
- How Do You Feel? by PBS Kids (online game)
- Ocean Emotion by Sesame Street (video)