I am so excited for this new release that I wanted to explain it a bit before making it available. This idea was first suggested to us by Brit from @thesmittyfamgram on Instagram. We've seen them before so the question that we always ask ourselves is "how can we make it better" and "how can we make it different."
Our wooden emotions board includes 9 emotions and three ball slots underneath each emotion. You can use the ball slots in several ways.
The first way is to use it as a "ranking system" in which, on a scale of one to three, your child can rank their feelings. One ball would mean a minimal level of that emotion (but while still relevant and an emotion they are experiencing) while all three filled would mean that they are completely feeling this emotion.
If you have multiple kids, another great way of using it is by assigning a ball color to each one of your kids that way they can all express their emotions at any given time and you'd know which child is feeling what emotion based on ball color or counter type.
Children experience not only multiple emotions at any given moment but also varying degrees of those emotions so it was important for us to find a way for children to be able to express these two things concurrently.
Our wooden emotions board was made in a rectangular shape and meant to stay on a flat surface, preferably a permanent spot like a low bookshelf or table, so the child will always know where to go when wishing to mark down/express their feelings.
Another way of using this is by showing empathy and understanding towards what others are feeling. So if little brother says something mean to big brother then you could try sitting them down in front of the emotions board and having them empathize and express what the other brother is feeling because of little brothers words or actions. Have them fill the slot up under each emotion that they might have caused by their actions or words. Empathy is a crucial character trait to develop, in order to maintain healthy relationships. Giving our children plenty of practice identifying and discussing feelings is a great way to start off making these connections.
I think we all understand that it's important but why is it important? As adults we have learned to regulate our emotions. However, children haven't yet learned how to regulate their emotions. It's important for children to be able to recognize, acknowledge, and work through their emotions. Learning how to identify and cope with emotions needs to be supported and encouraged. Researchers and child development specialists have found that teaching kids about emotions is important for several reasons but some of the more notable ones are as follows:
1. Normalizing emotions decreases anxiety.
2. Knowing our emotions promotes emotional intelligence.
3. Learning how to self sooth reduces unhealthy behaviors.
4. Working though emotions frees up a child to be their best self.
5. Emotional health is critical to physical health.
For those wishing to explore this topic further, I've found a great online resource that I'll share but there's also tons of information that you can find about this subject by doing a google search. The National Institute of Mental Health for one and the American Academy of Pediatrics are two great resources. A great online resource is www.psychologytoday.com:
"Emotional competence — or how children learn to express and control those emotions and recognize the emotions of others — is an important predictor of all sorts of positive outcomes for children, including starting and maintaining positive social relationships, and even academic performance (Denham, 2019)."
I found the above website full of great information and author Vanessa LoBue, Ph.D., goes on to state:
"This makes sense, as emotional competence is what helps children form and develop relationships with their parents, teachers, and peers; it is how they are able to control their own emotions so that they can concentrate on schoolwork, and behave appropriately in response to the needs of others. Further, children who lack emotional competence are at risk for peer rejection, difficulty in school, and emotional and behavioral problems."
Using a board like this helps to facilitate a deeper exploration of their feelings or maybe allow a child a space that they can go to mark down what they are feeling that day. Either way, this board has found a permanent home on our bookshelf. It's located on a waist high shelf along with a small bowl full of their counters/marbles. I haven't made it mandatory for them to mark down their emotions but they've quickly learned that it's a safe place for them to note their emotions and they know at one point in the day that they'll get some one-on-one time with mom to discuss why they are feeling that way.
Each of my boys have a marble color assigned to them so at a brief glance I can quickly scan and see who is feeling what. Sometimes I'll walk by the shelf before bed and see that the feelings have changed from when they first marked them down during the day which sparks a one on one conversation with them that I initiate. Maybe all they want is for us to initiate a discussion with them about how they feeling. It has allowed me to "tune in" to my children more and actually focus more on emotional health. There have been times where I would never have known that one of my boys was feeling "lonely" or "sad" because everything on the outside was indicating the complete opposite and it wasn't until I had pulled them aside that I found out the truth.
Our wooden emotions board will be released April 1st along with a couple of other goodies on our website at www.jackandlink.com