When my kids were young they spent summers “playing school.” With Naomi as the “teacher” the foursome spent time in the basement “learning.” Here’s Naomi’s version of what took place: “I kindly suggested (read forced) my siblings to play school with me. When I think back, it’s strange why four children, with everything in the world to do, would want to pretend to be back in the classroom for the precious summer months, but we did it with reckless abandon. We would learn from each other, and teach each other the basics like math and science and history. But most importantly, I think, I learned how my siblings thought and processed information and reacted to the pressure of my “strict” (read bossy) teaching style. Play school would generally end up with a loud argument followed by mom or dad being called from the top of the basement stairs. But it did give me some invaluable insight into my closest family members.”
When I think about what’s going on across the country and the world with the coronavirus pandemic, it may seem like you are “playing school.” School buildings across the country are closed. Educators are moving to the Internet and social media to teach your kids. And as parents, you’re on the front lines of the whole process, trying to navigate the new way your kids are learning while potentially teaching a lot of their lessons to yourself to know what’s going on. We’re in a peculiar time, where it’s never been more important for your children especially to be able to process what’s going on around them in a structured way.
Right now, I’ve seen children more curious than ever before. The kids in my neighborhood are taking the lead on walking around, exercising and finding activities to do with their families. But they still crave structure. I was talking with a mom friend who told me her kids still wanted a school-like routine, a schedule laid out with planned activities every single day. #StrongKids can help you navigate these challenging times. It’s the perfect 30- minute activity add on to any coronavirus school schedule.
What we’re going through right now, may be different and a little scary, but I think it’s vital that your kids know exactly what’s going on inside of them. Being able to understand and vocalize their emotions, recognize the thoughts behind what makes them happy or sad or bored or stressed. It’s time for them to “play school” with #StrongKids. They can sit down with the book or with the book and their siblings and learn where their strength comes from (spoiler: it’s in their thoughts), and how their feelings “stick” to their thoughts to control their moods for the day. Here are three ways to help your kids process all that’s going on inside of them using #StrongKids as a guide:
CREATE THOUGHT-FEELING EMOJI GAME
Print and cut out “emoji’s” representing different emotions. Then have your children write on the back of each emoji cut out what thought makes them feel that way (e.g. cut out a happy face emoji and have your child write on the back (or you do it for them) what thought makes them feel happy, etc.). Cut out a variety of emojis (including sad or afraid faces) and have your child “process” what thoughts make them feel those emotions by writing out what makes them feel that particular emotion. This is a great way to help them “think about what they’re thinking about” throughout this challenging time.
PLAY THE “UP AND DOWN” EXERCISE GAME
To help your children understand that thoughts and feelings take us “up or down” have your kids sit on the floor. Then have the leader grab the emoji cut outs that you’ve made and show an emotion. If the emotion is positive (e.g.: happy, excited, love) have everyone jump up. If the emotion is negative (e.g.: sad, afraid, angry), have everyone sit down (or fall down to the ground). Continue playing until everyone is exhausted! You can add the element of thinking by having everyone shout out what thoughts are making them feel positive or negative. Be sure to end this game on a positive note.
DEVELOP A DAILY EMOTION CHECK-IN ROUTINE
Use #StrongKids as a way to do daily “emotion check-ins” with your children. At the back of the book there are four faces representing emotions that children experience every day. After reading the book (at bedtime preferably), ask your children what thoughts they’ve had during that day that made them feel the emotions in the back of the book. This is a perfect time to sort, process, examine and validate your kids’ feelings. Remember to leave this time on a positive, loving note to help them sleep peacefully through the night.
At the end of the day, it’s all about recognizing and understanding emotions and finding peace, which is more important now than ever in the midst of this global pandemic. Visit www.strongkids.me for more information and resources.