Introducing Children to the My Feelings Box
I often hear from parents and teachers about the impact that the My Feelings Box has had on their children. They tell me that the kids use the My Feelings Box to share what is going on for them. This often sparks very interesting and constructive conversations and valuable teaching moments. Teachers tell me that the kids ask for the My Feelings Box when they find themselves in conflict with friends. Parents share stories of finding their children spontaneously pulling out their My Feelings Box when they get home from school.
Sometimes I get questions about how one might introduce the children to the My Feelings Box, especially when we think that a child might not want to engage with talking about their feelings. There are many different ways to do this and which one is best depends on the kids, your relationship to them and their situation.
Here are some ideas on how to present the My Feelings Box to children:
Leave it in a place that they will find it. Their curiosity can lead them to discovering it all by themselves. If they discover it when they are on their own, they might also feel more comfortable exploring it. Afterwards, they might come out and share their feelings with you or ask you about the box. Then it is a good time to just listen, acknowledge their feelings and perhaps start a conversation from there.
Use it yourself and share your feelings with them. Then ask them if they want to give it a go. If you want the child to feel at ease and to be honest about their feelings it's key that you are very honest and transparent about yours. They will feel it if you aren't. Ex. You could be feeling a mix of feelings as you are introducing them to the My Feelings Box such as excited, hopeful, nervous, anxious and that is totally OK. Or you might have some feelings related to something else going on in your life that you can share with them. Whatever emotions you pick, it is totally OK: That is just how you are feeling at that moment, it's no biggie. Doing this helps to normalize talking about how we feel and it also gives the child permission and a safe space to share theirs.
Look what I found. Take turns skimming the feelings and selecting the ones that correspond to how each of you feel in that exact moment or while thinking of something specific. You can encourage them to identify where in their body they are feeling it (there is no right or wrong) and what it feels like (light, heavy, tingly, etc.). Then look into the brochure to identify what this feeling could be all about.
Suggest feelings to them in a crisis. If a child seems to be upset or confused, you can suggest feelings to them from the My Feelings Box. Ex. Are you feeling annoyed? Are you feeling guilty? Etc. Let them say 'yes' or 'no' each time and put the ones they say 'yes' to on the inside of the lid. They may resist this at the beginning, and gradually want to do it themselves... They might not see the point of this at first, but one of the most uncomfortable things we all experience is an unpleasant feeling where we aren't sure what it is. When we find the right words, we can feel very relieved and it all seems more manageable. Naming emotions helps us to distance ourselves from them so they don't take us over.
Play a game - guess how I am feeling right now. Invite the child to play a game where you try to guess what they are feeling and they try to guess what you are feeling. To do this, each person has to pick out how they are feeling at that moment, then note it down or take a picture of the feelings with a phone or camera, and then remove the magnets again and get the other person to guess by selecting the magnets. Switch roles.
These are just a few of the possibilities for how to introduce kids to the My Feelings Box or how to use it with them. We love to hear about how you might use them or what has worked for you. Share your experiences in the comments below.
The My Feelings Box is a fun and engaging way to guide children (age 7-12) to unlock their Emotion Superpower (Adult speak: they learn how to understand and manage their feelings). If you haven't discovered it yet, there are lots of additional resources on the Emotion Superpower website here. If you are an adult who is keen to develop your own emotional awareness so you can better support the children in your life, we also have the Feeling Magnets for you.
To learn more about emotions, you can also sign up to the free Emotion Course here.