Resources to Teach Kids About Emotions and How to Manage Them

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For some children, learning about emotions comes fairly naturally but for others, feelings are a bit of a mystery. There are many resources available that can help teach children not only what emotions are, but how to manage them.

Resources to Teach Kids About Emotions & How to Handle Them

Emotional intelligence is a skill that requires as much intentional teaching as subjects such as math and language arts.

Whether your child struggles with learning about feelings due to autism/Aspergers, boundary issues, attachment issues (or RAD), learning disabilities, or just their young age, these resources are a non-threatening and often fun way to improve their emotional IQ skills in the home or the classroom. They can also help them learn to express their feelings effectively and give them more confidence.

One of our sons has Aspergers (a form of autism), so identifying and understanding emotions is a challenge for him. We have worked with him extensively on this including using books and things such as emotion cards (click that link to read how we use emotion cards with him).

Two of our kids have attachment issues which also lead to difficulty understanding appropriate emotions and trouble managing their feelings, boundaries and behaviours. I find with them that certain books have been excellent in allowing them to express where they are at emotionally that day or even in helping them to find new strategies to deal with their emotions.

Books can be a great way to help children learn to not only be able to identify and talk about different emotions, but even give them ideas of how to better manage their emotions. We use books for teaching tools on a regular basis and particularly those that facilitate discussions about feelings.

I often expand the books into discussions, crafts and activities. For the book Today I Feel Silly, we did a craft and I printed out emotion cards for us to do exercises with.

The book How Do Dinosaurs Say I’m Mad has recently become a favourite of ours because it has been a tool for helping our kids to identify how they (inappropriately) manage their anger and give them new skills for managing their anger more appropriately in the future. It plays out many different ways that “a dinosaur” might say that they are mad such as slamming doors, ignoring their parents, or pretending they don’t care. These scenarios are an easy way for me to ask my kids which one of those pages is most like the way they behave when they are feeling angry. They have actually been able to identify themselves quickly and have even laughed about how accurately the book describes how they react. The book ends by showing more appropriate ways the dinosaur could show his feelings or make amends for his poor reactions. We then talk about this and they identify how they would really like to react next time they are struggling with anger. I have even given them some role play scenarios to act out and practise their responses.

There are other tools available for teaching children about feelings, from charts and reminders to games. As mentioned above, we regularly use the emotion cards to help our son Einstein to identify feelings and to become more at ease with talking about them. We also use the scenario cards they contain with him and with our daughter who suffers from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) to prepare them for upcoming events or things they may encounter.

We like many of the other resources here as well including the posters and feelings mood magnet (it is easier for my son Snuggle Puppy to move the magnet to show me how he is feeling than to tell me in words). The visual cues help kids identify their feelings.

As a family, we also find specific board games are a good way to work on this skill without singling out the kids that most need work in this area and making the learning fun.

The most effective thing we have found to date for managing high emotions such as anxiety is the anti-anxiety kit we created for our daughter. It is very easy to make your own and I have included printable relaxation prompts with the ability to personalize for what works best for your child. Our “calm down kit” continues to be extremely effective at not only diffusing meltdowns, but at helping Dancing Queen to learn to better manage these episodes on her own.

Create an Anti-Anxiety Kit for Your Child including free printable relaxation prompts

Teaching Children About Blindness

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Browsing through the shelves at the bookstore, I happened across perhaps one of the coolest children’s books I have ever seen! As a side note, I do not allow myself to go into bookstores often as I get lost in all that there is to see there and spend far too much time (and money) so this was a rare treat. The book that caught my eye was called The Black Book of Colors.

The title of the book intrigued me so I opened it up to take a peek and was met with black pages with raised black pictures that had to be felt more than seen. On the opposing page was text in white along the bottom with the braille version at the top. The book explained what colors “look” like to someone who is blind.

Teaching Sighted Children About Blindness

I decided to turn it into a small unit study so I planned a few activities for the kids to go along with the book.

I set up containers of coffee beans, cooked spaghetti, dish soap, popcorn kernels, and taco spice seasoning. I blindfolded the kids and brought them into the kitchen one at a time. They had to guess what was in each container using their other senses, hearing, tough, smell, and even taste if they were brave enough! It was a fun activity that led naturally into discussion about how those who are blind use their other senses to navigate the world.

guessing based on senses other than sightI read the Black Book of Colors to the kids and they later took turn reading it themselves and feeling the pictures and Braille letters.

The kids also took turn trying to navigate their way through the house while blindfolded and talked about their observations. They also took turns helping to guide each other using their voices.

I found a wonderful online resource for sighted kids who wanted to learn more about blindness. It has information about Louis Braille, braille trivia and games.

There is a Braille alphabet printable at Enchanted Learning.

Lastly, we watched the Helen Keller Nest video and the kids completed the corresponding workbook. They love Nest videos and found this one especially interesting.

Activities for the Book Jump!

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I found this really cute book that I had never heard of before called Jump! by Guy Porfirio. It’s about a cactus named Barb that dreams of a life outside the desert. She attaches herself to different things and people in order to travel and sets off to experience new things. There are some funny moments like when her prickles spring a leak in a raft and in the end, Barb decides that it’s not very fun to have adventures with no one to share it with and goes to find a way to bring her friends. It’s a cute book and there are lots of ways that it can be expanded on.

Activities for the book Jump!After reading the book Jump! to the kids, we made a fun snack by putting toothpicks into a cucumber for the cactus’s pointy spines and adding black olive eyes and cutting out a little mouth.

I put a question on the white board and had the kids draw their responses. “If you were Barb the cactus, where would you want to visit?”

cactus

We learned a bit about cactuses and talked about the desert. A few weeks back, I had made a Desert Sensory Bin which worked well to pull out for this book as well.

Desert Sensory Bin

And Then My Uterus Fell Out…

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When my friend Piper Newton told me about her new book, I was excited to read it because I wanted to learn more about her journey with POP (Pelvic Organ Prolapse). I read the book as a way to support a long time friend and to be able to better understand what her life is like. I thought it would be interesting and provide insight, but I didn’t think any of it would apply to me…after all, I didn’t have Pelvic Organ Prolapse. Except that it turns out that I do.

Pelvic Organ Prolapse...What Women Should Start Talking About

I don’t have severe pelvic organ prolapse like Piper and many other women like her do, but some of the changes in my body that happened after childbirth that I assumed were just normal and inevitable it turns out are prolapse related. Things that I assumed I would just always have to live with, I now have hope that I may be able to change. Hope that perhaps someday, I will be able to jump on the trampoline with the kids, to not have pain, to have some of my old body back. Hope is a pretty incredible thing!

I was honestly shocked to discover that I had prolapse, that some of the things that women joke about and whisper about or don’t talk about at all are actually due to prolapse. The point of this book, the reason that it was even written in the first place was to get women talking about this and I now see even more clearly the importance of that discussion.

Women NEED to read this book. They need to start talking about prolapse and their bodies and what changes are normal after childbirth and what changes are not healthy and need further investigation. I have gone 18 years since the birth of my oldest son just assuming that everyone who gives birth ends up having to live with some of the effects on the body forevermore. Imagine my surprise that that is simply not true.

I am planning to implement some of Piper’s suggestions, to use some of the methods that she found success with in the hopes that I can improve my symptoms. I had a liberating (albeit rather personal) discussion with her yesterday about what her book helped me to learn about myself and she pointed me to a resource page of hers that may help start me on the road to better health.

In reading And Then My Uterus Fell Out, I was so impressed by Piper’s story, her determination to get back her quality of life after the birth of her son left her body mangled and forever changed. It is a story of triumph, of refusing to accept less than a good life, of using her research and writing skills to help not only herself, but others. I encourage you, especially if you have questions about your body and health in the years following childbirth to read this book.

On that note, it is my sincere pleasure to introduce you to my friend Piper Newton and have her share a little bit of her story with you…

——————————————————————

At thirty years old I had my first baby.

And then my uterus fell out.

Eight years later, when I was somewhat recovered from the shock and had developed a full-blown chocolate addiction, I wrote a book about it.

I actually waited all those years for someone, who was like me, to share their story. Contrary to popular belief, pelvic organ prolapse (POP), is not something that affects only women in their senior years. In fact 50% of women will develop POP in their lifetime, and over 10% will require surgery for prolapse at least once in their lifetime. That’s a lot of women! I figured one of them would write a book, eventually, that would help me feel less alone and provide some insight into what was happening to my body.

Over the years I have spoken to hundreds of women that have suffered with prolapse, but it was always shrouded in secrecy. When your uterus, bladder, and/or rectum make a bid for the bright lights through your vagina, it is not exactly a biscuits and coffee conversation. But I don’t know why this is the case. Why do we need to feel so ashamed of something we did not ask for, and did not cause?

The medical community rarely takes prolapse and its sister condition, incontinence, seriously. It is brushed off. Often with a mumbled edict to do more pelvic floor exercises or Kegels. This attitude is not helping women. In fact, it is doing a serious disservice to women.

Over the last eight years something has become very evident to me, the only way these issues are going to be taken seriously, and addressed properly, is if we start talking about them and making our voices heard.

Prolapse affects a woman in so many ways; it is physically uncomfortable and painful, it affects her ability to function to her full capacity and, for many women, it also leads to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and trauma disorders.

Prolapse is extremely hard to treat. Natural methods are difficult to navigate and learn, and surgery has high failure rates or creates new problems, often worse than the original prolapse. Prevention and risk assessment are non-existent. In fact, many doctors are knowingly using techniques that radically increase the risk of prolapse and birth trauma without the consent or knowledge of the woman.

Knowledge is so important. And the only way to increase knowledge and awareness of these issues is to start talking. To share our experiences.

Eventually, I tired of waiting and decided to write my story of becoming a mother, experiencing birth trauma, and the resulting prolapse and depression. But my story doesn’t end there, it continues as I adopted my second son from Ethiopia, learned to balance his special needs with mine, and then, found a new way to live in this body and love it despite its broken and wayward bits.

It has been a hard journey. One that felt very lonely at times, but since writing my story I have learned that so many other mothers have walked a similar journey through motherhood. Together we are starting to talk. It is my hope, that by sharing my story, I will encourage other women to come forward and share their stories. No one should ever feel alone with these issues, whether they are struggling with depression, special needs children, adoption, trauma disorders or pelvic dysfunctions.

Through my experiences I was deeply moved by the most traumatic of births that result in fistulas. A common, and extremely debilitating condition that is, sadly, all too common in the developing world. As such, I have chosen to donate a portion of my royalties to the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia. It is my hope, that through this book, I will be able to fund one complete surgery that will give a woman her life back.

An excerpt from, And Then My Uterus Fell Out.

“This experience was my first brush with the fact that I was no longer in control. Someone else had taken charge. I just didn’t realize what was coming or how drastically life would change. Can anyone really know how parenthood will affect their lives… and bodies? It is so different for every woman, every family. I have come to see motherhood like a set of pruning shears, and I am simply the tree that is being pruned and shaped by the sharp edges of motherhood. I may not like some of the cuts, and at times they were so painful, but with time I have grown fuller and more beautiful with each snip.

And then My Uterus Fell Out, is now available in both eBook and print. For more information visit www.prnewton.com

A brutally honest, and at times pee your pants funny, tale about one woman’s journey through motherhood with a condition that affects approximately half of all females, pelvic organ prolapse.

This moving memoir is one woman’s inspirational story about the traumatic birth of her first child and subsequent diagnosis of the chronic condition, pelvic organ prolapse. Wrapped within an engaging account of living with prolapse is an insightful glimpse into what it means to be a mother battling chronic pain, embarrassing side effects and depression in a society that often idealizes motherhood as a time of bliss and joy and dismisses this embarrassing, and often debilitating, condition.

Inspiration for her healing comes from the most unlikely of places, the heart-wrenching struggles of women in the developing world. A startlingly honest, elegant, and often humorous depiction of life with pelvic organ prolapse, And Then My Uterus Fell Out, calls out to all women around the world who suffer in silence with a life-affirming message of dignity, hope and sisterhood.

Piper Newton

P.R. (Piper) Newton was born and raised in Canada. A one-time professional communications and public relations manager, she now spends her time raising her boys and writing stories that capture her heart, begging to be told.

To learn more, visit her at www.prnewton.com.