Big Emotions, Little Kids is a hands-on tool that adults can use to help children
express what is happening in their inner world. It is centered around two feelings charts: Show Me How You Feel and Feelings Word Finder.
An adult (parent/teacher/counselor) uses the charts to engage the child in conversation and help the child to accurately discern their emotions. Over time, these conversations can help children develop a broad “feelings vocabulary” (beyond the typical happy/sad/mad/scared).
This naming of emotions can also be a springboard for a mindful conversation between the child and adult, in which the adult helps the child to:
1) understand the sources of their emotions and
2) find the best ways to express and act on those emotions.
Big Emotions, Little Kids has been designed by experienced mental health clinicians to meet the developmental needs of children from pre-K through early elementary ages.
Theory and Research Behind This Tool
Big Emotions, Little Kids is based on research and study in the fields of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Child Development Theory (particularly the development of internalized language).
• Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is widely used by mental health clinicians because it is research-backed and evidence-based. Although it is typically a short-term therapy, it has long-term benefits. It is highly educational, which means that strategies learned in therapy can continue to be utilized even after therapy ends. And many of these educational strategies–like Big Emotions, Little Kids–can be used by parents and teachers, allowing them to apply CBT strategies to everyday life.
• Child Development Theory provides us with an understanding of the importance of internalized language and social interaction in child development. Internalized language can be thought of as a “mental tool” that all people can use to regulate their emotional and behavioral responses to the world around them. The social interaction in Big Emotions, Little Kids gives adults a way to support the child in developing accurate and helpful internalized language.
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