Building Emotional Resilience in Children through Play & Attachment
Do you know a child who likes to break the rules? If so, I have a fun, emotional enrichment activity for everyone this week that is sure to get your children's attention! My daughter and I had a blast with this the other day, and the photos are priceless too!
Each week in my Facebook group, Emotiminds, I share an activity or concept that will help you build emotional resiliency within yourself and the children you care for. It is a virtual classroom for adult/child emotional development and a supportive community of likeminded people, many who are raising or working with children impacted by trauma.
A big part of the group's purpose is to increase the amount of time we spend in healthy interaction with our children. The more positive interactions we have, the stronger our bonds to each other grow. As a bonus, the more time we spend in a positive connection, the less opportunity for undesirable behavior. Attachment and healthy bonding act as a buffer to life's stressful moments. Children need and want to see you delight in them many times a day. When they walk into your presence, they are looking for your face to light up! That is why participating in emotionally enriching activities can be so powerful - they get everyone in a cheerful state of mind and create emotional attunement opportunities.
I believe that emotional development and resiliency is all about connection. All humans crave unconditional acceptance by a loved one. Even if we are fearful, we long to feel connected and understood by those around us despite our mistakes and shortcomings.
Keeping things novel and unpredictable can really stimulate our children's creative energy and also keep them engaged in the activity!
You will need two items - Chalk paint markers and a non-porous surface, like a window for this activity. I found my chalk markers at Marshall's, but you can also find them HERE on Amazon (affiliate link).
We chose a window for this activity, which excited my daughter, who loves to bend the rules! You could also use a refrigerator or any non-porous surface to start the fun. Get creative. Maybe it's a glass table in your home. There is no dust from these markers, and the colors are super vibrant! The best part for moms and dads is that these markers are easy to clean up with Windex and a paper towel. Just keep away from clothing and fabrics.
To get the conversation started about emotions, first, let the child do some free drawing. After a few minutes of drawing (and depending on age), you can draw simple faces with all different emotional expressions and then ask some of the following questions. You could also ask the child to draw faces with the various emotions for angry, sad, excited, happy. The next step is to initiate the discussion.
Have any of the characters you watch on TV ever felt like any of these faces (happy, sad, excited, confused, angry, afraid)
What did they do when they felt that way?
Which face do you feel like right now?
Where do you feel it in your body?
Can you remember a time you felt (excited, angry, etc.)
Where did you feel that in your body?
What helped your body feel better when you felt (sad, angry, etc).
There are so many directions you can take this conversation, but the important part is to LISTEN. Do not try to explain away the feelings. Do not try to make up reasons why they should've felt a different way. Just allow their emotions to BE.
As much as adults feel we need to "fix" things, for kids, we don't. Fixing doesn't help improve the bonds of attachment with the child. It does the exact opposite and can disrupt healthy attachment. When we help children recognize emotions and locate them in their bodies, they will build their self-awareness and help put that space between a trigger and emotional reaction! That is the goal.
Children who can identify the early signs of anxiety or anger, can learn how to hit the invisible "pause" button and make a healthy choice. This works for adults too.
Let me know if you have any questions, and as always, please share your experience with this activity!
For more emotional enrichment activities and a community of parents and professionals learning about mental health, join us in my Facebook group, Emotiminds! We would love to have your perspective. You can also learn trauma-responsive parenting/teaching skills via articles and videos on my blog.