Thursday, 10 November 2011

5 easy steps to help your child identify conflicting emotions.

We are constantly told that learning to recognize and label feelings, is an important part of a child's development. But what about conflicting emotions? What happens when they are both happy AND sad? Happy to be going back home to see their friends after a long holiday, but sad to leave nana.

What about that first day at school? They might feel proud, happy, scared, sad... We know how conflicting emotions can be hard to deal with as adults, what about when you are 5?

Here's a tool you can use with your kids in order to teach them that sometimes we can feel several, sometimes conflicting, emotions at the same time.

Step 1: Print this diagram of incomplete "smiley faces".

Step 2: Get your little ones to complete each face by assigning a different emotion, such as happy, sad, angry, scared or jealous to each face. Encourage them to add a mouth, nose, ears, eyebrows etc, to characterize each emotion. You can be as creative as you like and use stickers, glitter etc, but ask them to pick ONE colour to assign to each emotion. While decorating each face, talk to them about that particular emotion. When do they feel it? What does it feel like? When else have they felt that way? Adapt the questions to their age of course.

Step 3: Print the hot air balloon picture.

Step 4: Identify a particular situation that may elicit mixed feelings, such as the first day at school, or the arrival of a new baby. Using the smiley faces, ask them to identify what they are feeling in relation to the event.

Step 5: Transfer the colours of each emotion they have picked to a different strip of the hot air balloon. If for instance they pick 'red' for happy and 'blue' for sad and identify those two emotions, then paint the strips red and blue.

There you have it.

It's a good visual cue to explain to kids that sometimes we feel different emotions at the same time.

I'd love some feedback!