As some of you know, Encourage Play started a subscription box service in January. I wanted to give people a more in depth peek inside what goes into one of our subscription kits. Here’s a look at what was in our April subscription box!
APRIL'S THEME: MANAGING FEELINGS
The theme was Managing Feelings. The ability to manage different feelings that occur on a regular basis is such an important skill for friendships, but sometimes it’s hard to learn. This is something that adults can struggle with as well. It’s important for kids to learn how to manage feeling frustration, anger and disappointment safely. I like to explain to kids that all feelings are okay. It’s how you show your feelings that matters. If you’re doing unexpected things, or reacting in huge or unpredictable ways, it will be a turn off to others and they will be less likely to want to hang out with you. If you can manage different feelings in an expected way, kids are more likely to want to hang out with you and get together again later.
For example, if you are disappointed that you didn’t get to go first playing a game, and you throw the board game, kids aren’t going to want to continue to play with you. However, if you can take some deep breaths, calm down and talk about what’s happening and then figure out a way to solve the problem (like taking turns, or making a deal about who goes first), then it’s more likely that other kids will want to continue to play games with you in the future.
For our play date activities, I wanted to have a couple of activities that would help kids learn to manage feelings. I picked two activities that I know from experience help kids calm down.
PLAYDATE ACTIVITY: MAKE YOUR OWN PORTABLE ZEN GARDEN
The first was a portable zen garden. Making a zen garden can be a great way to calm down, relax and focus. A zen garden is supposed to be simple and uncluttered. You can use the rake to make ripples and patterns in the sand, and you can add in the stones as well. The best part of this garden? It’s portable! Place the cover on top and take it wherever you want!
PLAYDATE ACTIVITY: CALMING JAR
The second was a calming jar, which is sometimes called a mind jar. You shake up the bottle and watch the glitter & other materials settle on the bottom. It’s a great way to slow down and can even be a mindfulness activity. To make your jar, pour glitter paint into the jar until it just covers the bottom of it. Add warm water. Put the cover on and shake to help the ingredients combine. If you want to have your jar more glittery, you can add more paint. Once you are satisfied with the look of your jar, then use super glue or duct tape to secure the lid so it doesn’t spill.
FAMILY ACTIVITY: COPING SKILLS CHECKLIST
The family activity was a coping skills checklist. One of my favorite ways to help kids learn to manage their feelings is by discussing coping skills. In order to get an accurate list of coping skills, you’ve got to start figuring out what works and what doesn’t. It also makes sense to figure out new things they haven’t tried yet, to increase their list of coping skills. I included a checklist to help families start exploring this. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s an excellent way to get started and begin exploring ways for your child to manage their feelings.
I typically divide coping skills into 4 categories:
Calming - These are activities meant to slow down and relax. These can be helpful to do when you want your child to get settled to do work or before school. It can also be helpful before bedtime.
Physical - These activities are meant to to help deal with strong feelings or help get out extra energy.
Distracting - Sometimes when your child is dealing with difficult feelings, the best thing you can do is find an activity they enjoy to distract them. It’s a great way to cope, especially when there are things that are out of their control or if you need to get their mind off a tough situation.
Processing - There are going to be times when kids need to work through challenging experiences and tough feelings. These are some ways for kids to actually start processing their thoughts, behaviors and emotions:
Not every coping skill will work everywhere, every time, for every situation. For instance, laying down and closing your eyes is a great coping skill to use at home when you may be feeling overwhelmed, but it’s not a great choice when you're in the middle of reading class at school.
I hope you enjoyed your peek into our April kit!
May’s theme is flexibility. Sign up by May 21st to receive this month’s kit!