Anxiety, sadness, confusion, anger, disappointment, worry, happiness, frustration, excitement and depression are just a handful of strong emotions that every one of us experiences. Sometimes, these feelings can be tough to express... especially when you're a kid! It can feel like they're stuck in your head, swirling around and about to explode. When you feel this way, it can be so easy for your emotions to spew out of you and erupt like a volcano!
It is completely okay to have strong feelings, and we can learn safe and healthy ways to express them in art therapy. When your child can identify and understand their emotions, they are less likely to express their feelings in challenging ways, such as temper tantrums, negative self-talk or explosive behaviours. We can explore coping skills, regulation tools and grounding techniques that may be helpful for children when expressing their tough feelings! When children learn about their emotions, they might begin to feel happier, and more in control of their mind, body and behaviours. Kids might be able to better cope with life stressors, handle problems confidently and feel more positively about themselves.
Children are never too young to begin understanding their emotions, talking about them, and feeling comfortable in expressing them. The Emotion Game can be a useful tool for kids of all ages, and is a fun way to learn about feelings! For younger children, give hints and praise them while they try to identify the emotion. Older kids, explore more difficult feelings, such as jealousy, gratitude, shame, embarrassment, remorse and pride.
Try the Emotion Game with your child, and see if it's helpful for them!
- Choose an emotion and talk about a time when you felt this way ("I feel sad when it rains, when do you feel sad?").
- Model the emotion through gestures, facial expressions and body movements (while frowning and sulking, say "I'm sad").
- Ask your child to show you the emotion, and take turns guessing and talking about different feelings.
Ally Dunphy is a registered psychotherapist (qualifying) and art therapy associate at Art Therapy Guelph. For more information contact her below.