Because when you’re a kid, life is full of ups and downs.
a Little emotional help makes all the difference
Frida came home to find her little brother playing with the EXACT TOY that she was planning on playing with. She walked right up to him and screamed in his face and he still didn’t give it to her. In her fury Frida lunged at him, grabbed the toy, and pushed him to the ground.
Wes has a soccer game today, and it’s the first game of the season. He’s really worried that his coach is going to ask him to play goalie. What if he misses the ball? What if he forgets how to kick? What if his teammates get mad at him?? The game is in ten minutes and Wes is so nervous he can’t even find his shoes.
Sierra was playing outside drawing on the sidewalk with chalk when her foot pushed over a rock and a beetle crawled out from under it! It walked right by her! She was so startled that she ran inside and all the way to her room. She never wants to play outside EVER AGAIN.
And we can only operate from one part of the brain at a time.
Frida can’t operate with compassion, because she’s too furious.
Wes can’t problem solve, and find his shoes, because he’s too anxious.
Sierra can’t use logic to understand the beetle can’t hurt her, because she’s too startled.
The part of our brain that employs compassion, problem-solving skills, and logic, shuts down when we’re experiencing strong emotion.
Frida, Wes, Sierra, need help naming and processing their feelings before they will be able to use their executive brains and make good choices, solve problems, and think clearly.
Fiona gets home from school and says: “I HAD A BAD DAY TODAY!”. She glares at her mom, kicks the dog, and shoves the snack her mom offers her onto the floor.
Her mom realizes Fiona is truly upset and remembers they need to sort through her feelings before Fiona will be able to hear feedback about her disagreeable actions.
Together they go to the Feeleez poster and Fiona points to several images that describe her feelings. Mom nods understandingly, makes steady eye-contact, and asks follow up questions about what a particular feeling might be like. Eventually Fiona is feeling connected and calm.
Her mom can tell Fiona’s back in her executive brain and ready for feedback because she starts to act silly, make jokes, and kiss the dog. Her mom brings Fiona’s attention to how the dog reacted to her kick, and that it really doesn’t work to shove the snack because now it is all over the floor and her mom felt pretty mad that her kind offer was treated that way. Fiona sincerely apologizes and together they make a plan for cleanup and what to do next time Fiona’s feelings overwhelm her.
Fiona feels great.
Kelly overheard a person at school talking about her and saying “mean” things. She tried to be extra friendly to the girl during lunch, but she doesn’t think it worked because she wasn’t invited to play in the game. Instead Kelly went back into the classroom and played by herself.
What makes matters worse is that there is a birthday party today and that particular girl is going to be there. Kelly is pretty sure everyone hates her and she doesn’t want to go.
Kelly’s Dad gets out the Feeleez game and spreads all the cards out. He invites Kelly to play a game of memory. She sits in his lap and every time she makes a pair he asks her about the images on the cards. She likes telling him what the illustrations mean and what the kids on the cards might be feeling. Eventually she finds one that is having the same feeling she had when she heard those mean words. She cries about it and snuggles deeper into Dad’s lap.
A little time passes and Kelly feels differently. She starts to talk about the party and what it might be like. Dad listens.
Soon she’s ready to go!
Patrick feels mad at the boy who lives down the street. He’s getting so worked up that he starts calling the neighbor kid names like “idiot” and “dumbhead” while he storms around the house.
Patrick’s Grandma feels alarmed. She knows the boy down the street struggles and has very few friends. She wants Patrick to be kind to him and understanding. Then grabs her Feeleez Emotional Spectrum chart. She studies it and remembers that Patrick won’t be able to have a more compassionate perspective until he’s feeling less mad.
She starts listening carefully to his complaints and not contradicting him. She reads between the lines and empathizes with his emotions: “You sound like you feel very frustrated with how the game was going! Darn it!” When Patrick gets close enough she places a calm hand on his arm.
A few minutes pass and Patrick lets out a long sigh. His body is relaxed now and he hugs her tight. Sensing he might have access to his executive brain now, she gently asks him: “Do you think that neighbor boy was having a hard time today?”
Patrick nods and his face softens. He says: “I think every day is hard for him Grandma.” Grandma nods with understanding and Patrick adds: “Grandma? I’m going back out to see if he and I can start over.”
Kids that get help with their feelings have:
Fewer and shorter upsets
Greater emotional resilience
Increased levels of compassion
More fully developed brains