Feelings are complex. I find them hard to understand sometimes, so how are kids meant to get their head around them?
I believe it’s important for us to teach our kids (especially our boys!) about feelings. All the research and literature out there tells us, males can be reluctant to talk about problems or issues they may be having. This bottling up of emotions can have dire consequences. Encouraging our kids to talk about how they feel from a young age will help them become more resilient. It may even make it easier for them to talk about their feelings when they’re teens and adults.
For a while now, my husband and I have been thinking about ways we can teach our boys how to understand and talk about their feelings. I was so glad to hear about this very topic at a Protective Behaviours Workshop I went to recently. They taught us a simple ball game which my boys have had a blast playing. As well as teaching our kids about feelings, it has the added bonus of getting them active and reading new words. My boys are calling it ‘the emoji ball’ which I love!
It’s super easy to play and involves the following four steps:
1. Buy a cheap bouncy ball. I found a cute smiley faced one at K-mart for $3.
2. Write different feelings all over it with a permanent marker pen. My little man enjoyed helping me do this.
3. Include basic feelings such as happy but also include feelings your kids may not be so familiar with such as jealous or embarrassed. Keep it age appropriate and add pictures for younger ones if you like. Some more examples of emotions you could consider include: brave, confused, angry, disappointed, cheerful, bored, silly, uncomfortable. worried, shy, overwhelmed
4. Play a game where you throw the ball to your kids and which ever word their right thumb lands closest to, they have to call it out and give an example of when they felt that way.
For example, my eldest son said … “I felt EXCITED when I opened my birthday presents”. After explaining to my little man what jealous meant he said he feels JEALOUS when his big brother gets tooth fairy money. I was surprised what my boys came up with and it started some really interesting conversations. It also made me realise that my little five year old found it much easier to talk about his feelings when compared to his older eight year old brother. It just goes to show that the ability to express our feelings doesn’t necessarily get easier with age, but possibly practice.
Give this a go with your kids and feel free to let me know in the comments below how you got on. I believe it’s a great step in the right direction to getting our boys (in particular) talking more about how they feel. It’s small steps like this that can go along way towards helping our kids stay mentally well now and into the future.