Wow, what a crazy and weird few months we have all experienced. Such a rollercoaster of emotions for all of us with so many changes and so much unknown. Personally I’ve had good days and some days have been a real struggle. I have experienced every emotion I think possible, from proud moments when my daughter learnt to ride her bike, to holding back tears when clapping on our doorstep every Thursday.
Our children have had their little world turned upside down and all their routines and school/ pre school structures changed. Although a strange time, it has bought many positives too. I felt it was important to talk to my children about feelings, and we did a few activities that I thought I would share. I definitely went with the flow with the activities and at the start I wasn’t quite sure where we would end up or where the conversations would take us.
As a starting point I asked them what feelings they knew, and I was actually quite surprised especially when my 4 year old daughter said ‘worried’ and ‘disappointed.’ I wrote all the words out and left a little space between them. The feelings they picked were: happy, sad, excited, puzzled, worried, angry and disappointed. We then focused on each and talked about a time we had experienced that feeling. We started with easier ones, what makes you happy? When do you feel excited? I found it so interesting and amazed that they could actually pin point feelings to experiences. My 6 year old son said he felt disappointed that time we had to cancel our holiday to see family. It felt good to reflect on sad and worrying times but also focus on the times we were happy and excited.
My children loved this activity and it was so easy to set up. I bought them a mirror (from The Range) each and lots of stickers. Who doesn’t love a plate full of stickers? Some were letters, faces and sequins. The children took ownership of their mirrors and decorated them as they wished.
We then talked about the feelings we had on our list and had fun seeing if we could show the feeling on our faces. What does a sad face look like? Can you show me a worried look? The children loved using their mirrors.
We decided to focus on the ‘happy’ feeling and I drew the children each a jar. We then talked about all the experiences and a time that makes them happy. We had going on cycling trips, cuddling mummy, singing a song..etc. It felt good to focus on a positive. A picture we will hang up and remind us of happy thoughts/ times.
There are lots of activities you could do with the children as a way of getting them to talk. One moment for me that stands out was a few months ago at the start of lockdown. I read my son a bedtime story and then just wrote the word ‘worry’ in the middle of a piece of paper. I then asked him if he had any worries or thoughts that he wanted to talk about and we could write them down. It turned out he had so many questions and so much going on in his head. He worried about going out, about school, seeing his friends again and what would happen if anyone he knew got ill. We talked through each one and what we were doing to stay safe and also to keep others safe. He also had so many questions about social distancing and what that meant. I answered everything truthfully and wrote this next to each point we had written. It felt so good to spend that time one to one just talking. At the end he sighed and said ‘Mummy I’m glad we don’t need to social distance’ and gave me a massive cuddle. A chat that at the time I think we both needed! I have saved that piece of paper and put it in our memory box. It was a moment that has stayed with me for a long time.
I hope this blog has provided some useful activities. I am definitely no expert and it is just a few ideas that I have used with my children. At a time when we are all experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions and feelings, it is so important to talk.