Make Moody Puppets
For Parents continued...
Your child will learn more from this activity if you play with her. Moody puppets can help you teach your child to identify and talk about her feelings. Using moody puppets in a puppet show can also help her gain confidence about how to express feelings and respond to them in appropriate, healthy ways.
When your child is drawing his puppet faces, help him connect the emotion with physical sensations. When he is upset, for example, his face is probably flushed and warm, his muscles are tense, and he is breathing fast. These body cues can help him recognize the feeling called "mad" or "angry." Identifying is the first step to managing emotions.
Then, have your child pick a puppet and ask him questions to start a story. Once the story is started, your child's imagination is likely to take over. Ask questions such as:
- What happened? Why do you feel _____ (the mood of the puppet he has picked)?
- What did you do? Did that make you feel better?
- How do you think that made someone else feel?
- What else could you do? How would that make you feel?
Help him see that his emotions affect what he does. Also help him realize that he has choices about how to respond to what he is feeling. Explain that if he doesn't like what he is feeling, he can do something -- like talking to someone about how he feels -- to help change his "bad mood" and feel better.
What to Teach Your Child: Choosing What to Do About Feelings
One goal of this activity is to teach your child that there are many feelings, and it's OK for her to feel them all. Feelings may be comfortable or uncomfortable, but feeling emotions -- whatever they are -- isn't bad.
This activity will also help your child learn that there is more than one way to respond to how she feels. Some ways are healthy and good for her, some are not.
Help your child understand that she can choose how to express feelings. First, talk about things she might do that are inappropriate and unhealthy ways to react to her feelings. For instance, when she is mad, does she hit or scream? When she is sad, does she eat sweets? Then help her understand that when she responds to uncomfortable feelings in a healthy way instead, she will feel better. When she is mad, she may feel better by taking deep breaths. When she is sad, it may help her feel better to talk to someone about it.
What's the FIT Connection?
Teaching your child healthy ways to respond to being angry, sad, or tired is part of raising FIT kids. Think about all the unhealthy ways people react to emotions and stress: overeating, aggression, withdrawal, and even depression. Teaching your child healthy ways to deal with a "bad mood" can help avoid these unhealthy outcomes and encourage healthy habits like eating reasonable portions of nutritious food.
Plus, kids who are able to express feelings in appropriate ways are better accepted socially. That social acceptance can boost your child's self-confidence and affect other aspects of her life in a positive way, such as being willing to participate in an exercise class or on a sports team.