There are times when our children have a hard time trying to express their feelings, or they don’t know the proper way to express their emotions. Sometimes children express their feelings in negative ways such as physical and verbal aggression. Some children hit, yell, scream, threaten, kick, bite and so much more. There are ways as parents and guardians that we can help our children learn ways to express themselves better and realize their feelings are natural and it’s okay for them to express how they feel, but in a proper way. There are ways to help children learn how to express their emotions without them realizing it.
Feelings Games: Children of all ages like board games whether they want to admit it or not. A feelings game is a board game you can create with you child. They come up with the questions (you can make some yourself) and the rules that way it is something they did and something the can be proud of doing. You can gear the questions to see how they would respond in certain situations like what would you do if your sister wouldn’t leave you alone, or what do you do when you get mad. Other cards or questions could be alternatives like, instead of hitting John when mad what can you do. You can do the same with checkers. Put sticker dots on the checkers, different colors for different questions.
How Would You Feel Game: This is a fun little game that you can create as well. You can have the children act out how they would feel for different scenarios like what would you do if you were called to the principal’s office, or how would you react if you got a bad grade on a test, or how would you feel if you’re best friend told a secret. You could give points for each appropriate response and the person with the most points wins a prize or something to help promote the appropriate responses. When they give inappropriate ones, you can have others come up with proper ones to help figure out alternatives to negative responses.
Role Playing: This has to be one of my favorite activities. For this game you have each child role play how another child reacts when they are mad, sad, scared, or frustrated, or whatever other emotion you want them to be able to express. You can mix it up with pretend you are a scary monster, or act like a crying baby different random things to get the kids laughing and having fun. They would enjoy acting like each other, some may not be serious with it and others will. You will be surprised how many people don’t think other people view them in a certain way. Role playing will give kids an idea of how other people see them and gives you the chance to explain proper ways to express their feelings and change that image. To make it more fun for the kids allow them to role play you, kids always have fun pretending to be the parent.
Crafts: Some kids prefer to do crafts than acting things out, so coming up with various crafts to help express them is helpful. Collages are fun way to help get some aggression out because the child can cut things out any way they want and place them on poster board or whatever. it’s a good idea to have them make a Happy Poster of things that make them happy they can hang in their room somewhere. That way there is a constant positive reminder. Parents can have the kids draw a calming place, an imaginary place they can picture when they get upset or angry to help calm themselves before doing something more negative. The child can have a feelings journal to write in or even draw in. Allow them to scribble in it with whatever color represents how they feel then go back and ask them about it when they have calmed down. It helps keep track of their feelings and sometimes will grow into something more.
Scavengar Hunts: A lot of kids like to go on scavenger hunts and try to be the first person to find all of the items on the list. The items on the list could be things that provoke emotion such as something that makes you feel good, or something that make you sad. You can include memories from the past to help kids remember times when they had fun and felt relaxed. Once the children come back with all of their items have them explain what each one is and why it is the item they say. So if they bring a picture of a best friend and them and say its something that makes them happy, ask them why does it make you feel happy. It gives the kids a chance to think about things that make them happy and help keep them from reacting negatively to different situations.
What Would you do: This is kind of like the how would you feel game already mentioned. This game you can use a beach ball, one of the ones that is sectioned with different colors. Use a black magic marker or permanent marker and write different scenarios kids would deal with or what you think would trigger you child’s anger and frustration. Then play a normal game of catch or keep the ball in the air. When they catch the ball they have to read the first scenario they see and then describe how they would react. If it is positive, they get a point if not they don’t and you as the parent/guardian can give them a positive alternative to their reaction. You can allow them to come up with some of the situations by asking what makes them frustrated and gives them stress in daily life. That way you can help them learn how to deal with the issues they face day to day.
Kids need some help learning new ways to express their emotions whether they are good or bad. Sometimes kids don’t know how to express that they are mad, frustrated or angry, but also happy or sad. Some react negatively with aggression towards themselves or others. Games and activities can help kids learn new and alternate ways to express how they feel and learn how to react when they feel angry, or frustrated. Have fun with whatever you try with your child.