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Since we’re right in the middle of Toddler town, we’ve seen what happens when Pumpkin has a flush of feelings suddenly. She can go from happy to super upset and then to laughing all in minutes depending on what set her off.
Currently, we try to make sure we identify her feelings. Maybe identify isn’t the right word, more like acknowledge. I want Pumpkin to understand that it’s okay to feel, even when it’s not happy and that we are listening. We may not be able to do anything about it, but hopefully she’ll feel better because we are listening to her.
We also use the Dr. Harvy Karp method of “caveman” repeating emotions. So if she’s sad, we say, “You’re sad, you’re sad, you’re sad” while mimicking her behavior. This gets her attention and then we can discuss or try to discuss what is making her sad. Or I give a reason why we can’t do something.
While we may not watch Inside Out with Pumpkin for a couple of years, I think it’s an important concept to use now when she’s trying to figure out what all these emotions are. In the end, I want her to feel comfortable expressing herself and be able to identify how she’s feeling.
First, I picked up the plush characters from the Inside Out movie at my local WalMart. These are incredibly cute and colorful and since we are big on plushies, I think she’ll be able to use these to help describe her feelings.
Next was a trip to the local craft store. The plushies were larger than I thought they would be so instead of creating a cardstock treasure box, I am going to re-use a box that came in the mail and cover it in this sticky backed cork paper and add decorations to it. Hopefully creating a look of a treasure chest. Be careful when using sticky-backed craftpaper. It is really sticky! Once it sticks there was no way to move it. So after the first couple of pieces, I started only peeling the top so I could peel as I go for the rest of it and avoid errors.
First I cut out a heart opening to the box. Since the plushies were so big, I didn’t have a box with a top that I could open like a treasure chest. So the heart is the opening that she can both see inside or put things away in.
Then I decorated the box with stickers. I wanted to decorate with shapes but of course Silhouette is having issues with Mac version of the software while I was working on this. So I had to go with the flow. Also what in the world would be an image for Disgust?
Pumpkin found the box this morning and immediately went to Joy and Sad.
The idea is that the plushies stay in the treasure box. For now, we’ll just play occasionally with the box and we’ll take an emotion out and say what it is and then put it back. But as we progress, I hope she can use it to identify how she’s feeling.
Here is Pumpkin when she first meets Anger:
Pumpkin is terrified of Fear which is pretty interesting. She touched him and immediately said ow and now won’t go near him. She picks up Disgust and calls her Minnie for some reason. haha It will be fun to see her play with these and I know there are some great toddler learning exercises we will be able to do with them.
How do you help your toddler understand their emotions?