What we’re going through right now may be different and a little scary, but it’s vital that kids know exactly what’s going on inside of them. They need to be able to understand and vocalize their emotions, recognize the thoughts behind what makes them happy, sad, bored or stressed.
“We’re in a peculiar time, where it’s never been more important for your children especially to be able to process what’s going on around them in a structured way,” says media veteran and human behavioral consultant Jennifer Keitt.
Through the new children’s book, Strong Kids—co-authored by Jennifer Keitt and her daughter, news reporter Naomi Keitt—parents and their children can create camaraderie versus a combative relationship. This practical, colorful, and fun book will help children ages 3-6 learn the social and emotional skills involved in understanding their thoughts and feelings. Strong Kids will help children take back their power in order to “turn things around” when their thoughts bring them down.
The Keitt’s are sharing three ways to change your mood at home and help kids process all that’s going on inside of them.
CREATE THOUGHT-FEELING EMOJI GAME
Print and cut out “emoji’s” representing different emotions. You can have your children write on the back of each emoji cut out what thought makes them feel that way (e.g. cut out a happy face emoji and have your child write on the back (or you do it for them) what thought makes them feel happy, etc.). Cut out a variety of emojis (including sad or afraid faces) and have your child “process” what thoughts make them feel those emotions by writing out what makes them feel that particular emotion. This is a great way to help them “think about what they’re thinking about” throughout this challenging time.
PLAY THE “UP AND DOWN” EXERCISE GAME
To help your children understand that thoughts and feelings take us “up or down” have your kids sit on the floor. Have the leader grab the emoji cut outs that you’ve made and show an emotion. If the emotion is positive (e.g.: happy, excited, love) have everyone jump up. If the emotion is negative (e.g.: sad, afraid, angry), have everyone sit down (or fall down to the ground). Continue playing until everyone is exhausted! You can add the element of thinking by having everyone shout out what thoughts are making them feel positive or negative. Be sure to end this game on a positive note.
DEVELOP A DAILY EMOTION CHECK-IN ROUTINE
Before you go to bed for the night, spend some time with your children doing an “emotion check-in.” Ask your children what thoughts they’ve had during that day that made them feel happy or sad, scared or anxious. This is a perfect time to sort, process, examine, and validate your kids’ feelings. Remember to leave this time on a positive, loving note to help them sleep peacefully through the night.