When one-hit wonder Albert Morris crooned about feelings, he may have thought they were nothing more than feelings, but to a kid, feelings are everything. They’re big, scary, fantastic, amazing and strange. It’s a lot to process!
How do our feelings connect to our actions? There’s verbal cues, but there’s also body language. Body language can help us understand how a person is feeling. Sometimes, it can even help us know how we’re feeling. When someone turns up the corners of their mouths, shows us some of their teeth, and crinkles the corners of their eyes, we interpret that to mean they’re happy. When we find ourselves crossing our arms and furrowing our brow, something must have made us angry.
Helping kids tune into other’s body language can help them build empathy skills. And helping them tune into their own body language can help kids feel more in control of their own emotions. That can lead to better self-management down the road.
So how can we make all this heavy feeling stuff fun and light? Turn it into a game for the whole family!
- slips of paper
- pencil or pen
Version 1: How do you feel when…
In this version, we’re focusing on how we feel about certain things. For instance, how do the kids feel when I say, “Let’s go get ice cream?”
On a strip of paper, write down a situation that would make someone feel happy, scared, angry, etc. Fold strips and put them into a bag or container. Then have family members chose a strip and act it out.
Version 2: There’s a Name for That…
In this version, we’ll work on building the kids’ emotional vocabulary. How many different words are there for angry? How about happy? Lots and lots.
On a strip of paper, write down synonyms for the words, angry, scared, etc. Go ahead and throw in some silly ones too. Then unleash your inner thespian and act them out. Have fun with it!