When we create space for children and people in our lives to simply say what it is they are feeling or experiencing, without the need to fix it, to change it or to make it okay; it immediately creates an environment that is supportive and accepting. This in turn creates safety and trust within a relationship; into which a person or child can lean when they are facing challenges.
How can we create a space like this?
Often, if not always, the simple way is the most profound. An ’emotional check in’ is one of the most practical ways that I have used that can support, in a gentle way opening conversations about emotions with a child. An ’emotional check in’ is when we take a moment to feel what is going on inside and name what we are feeling. We do not need a reason as to why we are feeling what we are feeling, or a long explanation. It is enough become aware and to name, to the best of our ability, what it is we are experiencing.
The Feeling Cards come with 10 junior emotions, and 25 senior emotion picture cards which are perfect for this activity.
(an example of the junior picture cards)
Using the picture cards, spread them face-up. You can use all the picture cards or only some of them.
Step two: You and the child (or children) you are connecting with can choose one (or more) cards that show how you are both feeling in that moment.
Step three: (optional) You and the child can then choose whether or not to share more about why you and they are feeling that emotion. Over time, both you and the child improve at identifying, sharing and expressing what they are feeling.
**Depending on your child’s age, emotional vocab and understanding you may choose a selection of cards, starting with a few choices and then increasing. Or you may start with all of the cards and allow them to inquire and become curious about what all the options are.
Be honest with what you are feeling, try not to shy away from what may seem like more challenging emotions. Remember that as you (the adult) are willing to express what you are feeling you are modelling and giving permission for the child to do the same.