- Several active games like Freeze Tag, Hide-and-Seek, Dodge ball and Keep-away resemble real-life situations, which can rouse a range of emotions from children. For instance, a child waiting for someone to unfreeze him in Freeze Tag may feel neglected, or a child may feel angry when he’s seen in Hide-and-Seek. You can use children’s natural responses to these situation in helping them identify their feelings, and if necessary, teaching them better ways of behaving.
- How Do Feelings Feel? Appropriate for all primary grades.
–Have children take turns acting out or miming different feelings: anger, fear, sadness, happiness, excitement. Have the other children figure out which feeling is being acted out.
- What Are Feelings About? Beneficial for children between Grade 1 and junior high.
–Ask children what they get angry about, what they get frightened about, what they get sad about, and so forth. Take one feeling at a time. Guide them so they don’t confuse feelings (i.e., talk about something frightening and say they were angry).
–As you do this with each feeling, summarize what is common to all of their experiences: what they all get angry about, what they all get frightened about.
- Where Do We Feel Feelings? Intended for children in the third grade and up.
–Ask children where in their bodies they feel angry, frightened, sad, etc. Take one feeling at a time. Younger children will need more help in identifying where they feel certain feelings.
–Discuss what children do with these feelings in their bodies. Do they let themselves feel these feelings? Do they stop themselves from feeling them or do something so they won’t feel that way? Do they ignore these feelings? What do they think happens when they stop or ignore the feelings they have?
–Tell children, “We all have feelings and all feelings are okay. Feelings are there to tell us that we need or want something and they provide us with the energy we need to act to get what we need. It is important to let ourselves feel our feelings. When we stop them, or block them, or ignore them, they don’t go away.”
All three of these feeling exercises are useful in helping children distinguish their feelings. The last exercise is particularly beneficial for children who hide their feelings. Knowing what a feeling feels like inside is the first step in helping children express it.
In addition to games, several packaged programs are available which help children grow emotionally. These include everything you need to start your own Personal Development Curriculum for children in your classroom: puppets, role-playing suggestions, posters, cassettes, filmstrips. I have listed three of the more popular programs. If you would like more information, addresses are in Appendix C.
- The Human Development Program, by Palomares and Ball, 1974, is meant for children four to 11 years of age. It involves teacher-led discussions in the “Magic Circle” on topics such as improving self-control, listening skills, and expression; learning the meaning of responsibility, fantasy, and role expectations; and building self-esteem, trust, and friendships.
- Developing Understanding of Self and Others, (DUSO I and DUSO II), by Dinkmeyer, 1970 & 1973. DUSO I is intended for children in kindergarten and Grade one. It is based on eight “understanding” goals: self; feelings; others; independence; goals and purposeful behavior; mastery, competence, and resourcefulness; emotional maturity; choices and consequences. The program includes stories, puppets, and discussion topics. DUSO II has similar themes, only adjusted to the needs of children in Grades 2 to 4. In addition it has posters and situation cards to inspire children’s discussion.
- Towards Affective Development (TAD), by Dupont, Gardner, and Brody, 1974, is designed for children in Grades 3 to 6. This program develops five dimensions of children’s feelings: “Reaching In and Reaching Out,” “Your Feelings and Mine,” “Working Together,” “Me: Today and Tomorrow,” “Feeling, Thinking, Doing.” Most of the activities are aimed at getting children to talk about their feelings. The kit also has a range of extras such as filmstrips, cassettes, dittos, and a “feeling wheel.”