Tip of the Month: Activities to Increase Connection and Emotion Regulation During a Stressful Period
Activities to Increase Connection and Emotion Regulation During a Stressful Period
With needing to stay indoors during these different times we need to get creative on how to spend time with our children and limit their time on electronics. These activities will allow you to strengthen your connections with your children while also learning about them. Below are a few activities to try with your children!
Name it to tame it. Print an image of a human silhouette from the internet. Get your child to close his/her eyes and picture the last time they felt angry (sad, scared, jealous, etc.). Ask him/her to think about where in their body they felt the emotion (e.g., clenched teeth, tight fists), and as he/she speaks, circle the areas on the body silhouette, taking notes about how he/she describes the feeling. When your child becomes aware of the physical changes in their body, that signal big emotions, she or he will have a better chance of managing them, before their brains become hijacked by a flood of emotion.
The emotions bowl. Being able to talk about emotions, requires awareness and also an understanding that it’s safe to express them. The emotions bowl activity is a great activity to inspire conversations regarding emotions. Write down eight core emotions (anger, nervousness, joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, guilt) on eight slips of paper and put them in a bowl (folded up). Encourage each family member to select one from the bowl and listen as each person describes the last time they experienced their selected emotion. No need to agree, fix, judge or comfort. Emotions come and go, and don’t always have to be acted on. The real objective of this activity is to encourage family members to become more mindful about their internal experiences and to get more practice expressing themselves.
Make a Coping Skills Toolbox
A Coping Skills Toolbox is a kit that you create to help your child calm down when they are upset, anxious or worried. In order to get the most benefit from this, you should create this kit before an issue occurs. When your child experiences anxiety, then they can pick out an item from their Coping Skills Toolbox. This is one of my favorite ways to help kids learn to calm their anxiety. You want to have at least 3 or 4 items in a coping skills toolbox. Some of my favorite items are things like fidgets, bubbles and coloring books with colored pencils or markers. Practice, practice, practice. Review the coping skills that are in the toolkit when your child is calm and relaxed. Have them try out the skills to see how it feels. For example, have them take deep breaths, or hold the fidget for a few minutes. It’s good to have that practice time so they know how it will feel to try the coping skill when they are calm. When you start to see their signals give them a gentle reminder to use a coping skill from the toolbox.
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