Monday, May 10, 2010

Teddy Bear emotions

I promised you a few posts on emotional intelligence, and want to start off with sharing with you about two games that has helped Sweetpea a great deal in the way of naming emotions.

They are called Bear Pairs and Rainbow Bears, and I bought these as part of my 'kit' when I became a consultant for Play2Learn educational Toys at the beginning of this year. They are made by Smile, so you know it is good quality and well thought through!

Anyway, like I said, they were intended to be part of my 'business' toys and not for my own children to play with. But as I very quickly realised, I simply cannot sell something to a mother if I don't know from personal experience that it is a good product, so I took it out one afternoon to see how Sweetpea would take to them. They have been a hit eversince (and not in the way you'd you soon will see!)

Bear Pairs is made up of 12 sets of bear shaped cards. We started playing the simplest game first: finding each bear's match! I laid the bears on the carpet and Sweetpea would search for the matches. (Great for visual discrimination AND midline crossing!) The next step is playing that classic memory game where all the bears face downwards and you turn over two at a time, trying to remember where the match is. (The bears are all cut from the same die, so the child can't guess by means of the shape.)

Just a sample of the bears from the Rainbow Bears game

Rainbow Bears is intended as a game for teaching primary and secondary colours. Two of the bears have spinners on their bellies (primary colours and black and white, and secondary colours and black and white), so the children spin and then pick a 'button' in the matching colour to place on the corresponding dots on their bears' bellies. Both sets come with instructions for several variations of these games.

But what has this to do with my two-year old and her emotions? Well, you will notice that the bears from both sets show a beautiful range of facial expressions. When we first started playing with these, we spent a lot of time talking about each bear, its expression, its clothing etc, and made up stories about why they felt like that. The bandaged bear was an instant favourite with Sweetpea, probably because she could relate to having bumps and bruises!

It was shortly after I introduced this game when she one day told me she was feeling sad. I realised that she had never used that word until we first played with the bears, so I picked a few of them with expressions that I thought she could relate to, and kept them next to her bed. Whenever she experienced an intense emotion, I pointed it out to her by showing the corresponding bear and talking about it!

Words are such a powerful tool: imagine feeling something overwhelming - be it joy or anger or sadness or excitement - and not being able to communicate it to the people you share your life with. When we teach our children the appropriate names for their emotions, we empower them. We can then help them to cope with those emotions in a healthy , positive way.

I want to add here that I am also training my children not to 'wallow'. We do not tolerate whining, and try not to indulge dramatics (my daughter is a little prone to exaggerations - she does have half my genes, after all!) If a child bumps a head or stumbles, I try to resist running to their rescue immediately (unless it's justified. However, I am always amazed at how quick they recover when no one makes a tremendous fuss out of every little bump!). Instead, I want to teach them to deal with it, and then get on with life. Joy is encouraged around here, and although feelings of real, legitimate sadness, fear, anger etc, are recognised and allowed, we aim to teach our children to work through negative emotions quickly and efficiently, so that joy and peace can be restored as soon as possible!

If you think your child can benefit from the two games mentioned above , you can order them from me via e-mail.

1 comment:

  1. I really want those bears! I think Samuel will also love the Bear Pairs and I love how you link a little story to each bear! Children learn by association, so this is a wonderful way of starting to associate a feeling to an event...Then when it happens in reality, you can reference back to the bears and the feeling story is reinforced again!


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