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Kids GROK activities are designed for children and families to use at home or school for fun and connection. Playing with the feelings and needs cards promotes empathic listening, self-compassion, and honest self-expression.
We designed the Kids GROK feelings cards to support children in learning to name and express the physical sensations they feel in their bodies. The needs cards can be included with older children (age 5+) to help them understand the motivating factor behind their feelings.
Below are ways of incorporating the Kids GROK Feelings cards into your home, classroom, or any other place children are in a learning environment. It’s helpful to familiarizing yourself with the Feelings and Needs cards so you can readily access them when working with children.
To begin, review the Feelings cards and notice how your body feels when you contemplate each of the feelings.
When introducing feelings to the children, you may want to begin by asking “What is a Feeling?” Reflecting back what each child says will validate their experiences.
Ask them where they feel their feelings in their bodies. Specific feelings may be connected to specific parts of their bodies. Have fun discussing feelings.
Here are some initial discussion questions depending on the ages of the children:
• What is a feeling?
• Why do we have feelings?
• How do you know you have a feeling?
• When do you feel (happy, angry, sad, scared)?
• Are there any feelings you don’t like to feel? (This topic may need serious consideration. Our hope is that children will accept and learn from all their emotions, no matter how scary or difficult)
• Are there feelings you like to feel?
• What are you feeling right now?
• Close your eyes. I’m going to say a feeling. Notice where you feel it in your body. Ready? (Name the feeling and give the children time to experience it then ask them where they felt it)
There are many ways you can incorporate feelings into daily activities. Once the children have learned the feelings on the chart, you can ask them to pick out one feeling they might be feeling at the beginning of the day. This also allows you to take the emotional temperature of the class which can help you navigate the day.
Children can be encouraged to guess the feelings of their classmates. As events occur, you can process them in front of the class helping children name the feelings of everyone involved.
Because they are more conceptual, we suggest you start introducing the Needs Cards around ages 5-6. Needs have been described as life energy, wishes, wants, hopes, motivators, and our ‘internal guidance system’. Needs help us connect to our humanity and the humanity of others. Everything we say and everything we do is to meet a need. Our needs are universal (we all have them!) and are not connected to person, place, or thing.
It’s likely children will tell you that their feelings are a direct result of something that happened or was said. While this is true, the quality and intensity of their feeling is related to what they were wanting or needing at the time.
So instead of this sequence of cause and effect…
Event --> Feeling
…our feelings are experienced as a direct result of what need is important.
Event --> Need --> Feeling
Depending on what a child needs in any given moment, their feeling will either be comfortable or uncomfortable. This explains why two children can have very different feelings after the same event. For example, if two children are playing in the ocean and a wave knocks them over, one child might laugh and another might cry. Why? It’s likely the child who laughed got their need met for spontaneity or adventure and the child who cried may have needed safety and predictability.
In a classroom, if a teacher calls on one child who did their homework and is prepared, the student may be happy because they got a need met for recognition or acknowledgment. On the other hand, a child who is unprepared may be embarrassed or unhappy because they needed emotional safety or effectiveness.
When discussing needs with children, you can ask similar questions as when discussing feelings:
• What is a need?
• Why do we have needs?
• How do you know you have a need?
• Name some needs that are very important to you.
• When might you need those needs?
There are many ways you can incorporate needs into daily activities. Once the children are familiar with the needs, you can ask them to pick out one need at the end of the day that they had met during the day. As you interact with children, you can guess their needs ‘in the moment’. When you guess, always make sure it a question, such as “I’m imagining when that happened, you would have liked to know your opinion mattered. Is that true for you?”
Children can be encouraged to guess the needs of their classmates. As events occur, you can process them in front of the class helping children name the needs of everyone involved in any one incident.
When helping children identify feelings/needs*
Look for cues Observe children’s behaviors and body language and listen to what they say. If you think you know what they might be feeling, make it a respectful guess. When children can put words to their experiences, they begin to develop an emotional vocabulary that will support them in talking about their feelings.
Depending on the age of the child, make a respectful guess of what they were needing.
Role Model Children learn by example. Share your own feelings with the children even if they are uncomfortable. In this way you will be modeling that even unpleasant feelings can be felt and dealt with.
Identify Feelings/Needs of Others Once children are literate in their own feelings (and needs depending of the age), they can begin to guess the feelings/needs of others. You can begin by sharing photos from cartoons or picture books. Ask the children what feeling are being felt.
When situations present themselves, ask the children to guess the feelings (and possibly needs) of other kids. Be sure to circle back for accuracy to the child experiencing the emotion.
Encourage When children identify and label their feelings or needs, encourage and acknowledge them. When feelings are minimized or dismissed, they may be expressed in unhealthy ways.
When children act out*
When children are upset or frustrated, they may act out by throwing things or even hurting themselves or others. When this happens, you can teach them to express their feelings in the following ways:
• Relax their body
• Take deep breaths
• Name their feeling
• Identify what they might be needing/wanting
• Use their words
• Talk to a grown up
• Walk away if they need to
With thanks to kidshotline.com