Helping Children Manage Emotions; Better Board

Introduction

Helping children manage emotions is a tricky one; after all they often push you away when they most need your help.  This activity is about laying the foundations when they’re happy and follows on from a “Head for Feelings“. 

The hope being that when it comes to a time when they don’t want your help (or certainly don’t want to admit to wanting it!) you can remind them that there is stuff that they can do to feel better.  And most importantly reassure them that if they need you, you’re there.

Feelings can be scary for us all and really scary for little people.  Especially if they’ve crept up on them; maybe they don’t even know why the feelings are there, what’s caused them or what they can try to help themselves feel better.

I felt like I was walking a thin line with this activity; after all I don’t want the boys to feel like feelings need to be squashed. Some feelings need to be felt, some feelings need time and sometimes we need help.  We can’t always simply be fixed.

However, there is so much that we can do to make ourselves feel better.  Identifying feelings, possible causes and solutions (including reaching out for help) is such a good life skill and – at the moment – for my boys, this is sometimes as simple as “I need to go for a wee!”

Helping Children Manage Emotions; “Better Board” Activity

So with a pretty table of post its and snacks, I asked them what they can do to make themselves feel better or stay on good form!  At first there responses were a bit disappointing…

I left it a while. Nearly a month in the end. We had half term and a birthday; summer was here and meltdowns weren’t as frequent. Then I saw my chance in the form of “Health and Well-being Week” at school.  They always listen more if I can link it to what their clever teachers are doing at school.  Mummy knows nothing.

We got a bit further.  And then over the summer holidays we have completed the task.  Having it run for a while has been a positive in many ways; its kept the chat alive.  Instead of nagging them to have breakfast when they get distracted in the morning with toys or TV, I’ve reminded them of their well being. 

And when they’ve let themselves get hangry, I’ve gently reminded them again.  Now they even spot when I’m getting hangry!  And when they’ve played too much Fifa, I’ve talked about doing stuff too much, that you can do too much of anything.

So here follows the completed “Better Board” – at least this is what we have come up with so far….

Better Board

The List – Hug, Music, Poo, Football, Wee, Talk, Stop, Do Something Different, Pasta, Sleep, Play, Read, Quiet, Write, Draw, Nature, Dream, Big Pink Pig (When I asked why (and what?!) he said it made him laugh and that laughing is good – couldn’t argue with that!).

Please post anything we’ve missed in the comments below! 

In summary – helping children manage emotions

Officially they think it is a bit pointless.  After all it’s not a game and nowhere near as fun as kicking a ball around.  It doesn’t involve chocolate, money or Haribo.  You can’t really measure it.  But I think they get it. 

Get that we care about their feelings, that their feelings matter and on the whole don’t just happen out of the blue. 

As they grow up I want them to develop an understanding that feelings are nobody’s “fault”.  That while there is stuff  that they can do to try and look after their emotional well-being, its more than okay to need help.  That its normal.  That we are always here to help them if they need us.  My biggest hope is that they always let us help them if they need us.


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