Saturday, August 9, 2014

Emotion Plates

Learning to display an emotion appropriately can be a challenge for an adopted child who has never been corrected or even shown how to express themselves correctly. Every child reacts differently to the feeling of losing control, i.e. not getting their need met or their want in some form or fashion. Some children like to stick with one or two emotions. They will use that one emotion for all of their feelings. This can be a very frustrating thing to deal with as a new parent-believe you me!

Around our house we have a tough time recognizing our emotions or putting a name to the way we are feeling. My daughter currently has two emotions that she identifies with 1. happy 2. mad. She displays them at completely inappropriate times. Example: I would say to her, “that is not a nice thing to say about that person” or “that hurt my feelings when you say ugly things like that” and she would laugh. Another example would be: “Please start on your night time list”, I would tell her and then all of a sudden she would get mad and stomp around. She likes to hide under these two feelings. What is she really feeling underneath? And that is the challenge that adoptive parents or special needs parents deal with-trying to help their child understand and acknowledge their feelings.

Now did my daughter think that it was funny to say ugly things or be mad at me for asking her to do something? No, of course not, she was hiding under those two feelings. She was actually embarrassed and felt shame that I did not agree with her ugly statement about that person. She was actually scared to go upstairs in the dark, not mad. Its tough deciphering what she really feels and it takes a whole lot of time to show her how to appropriately show the different emotions that she is feeling. For an average tantrum a kid experiences, we probably spend an extra 15-20 minutes discussing how we should have felt in that situation and how we should have reacted appropriately. One way that has helped us to teach the different feelings and emotions are Emotion Plates. I’ve created these simple face plates that list off different types of feelings one emotion can have. We use these plates to teach our daughter to recognize the different feelings that accompany her emotions.

Emotion plates - front

Emotion plates - back

When my daughter is having a "difficult" time verbalizing her emotions, I get her to pick out how she feels-sometimes its one or two different plates. We then discuss the different feelings that go along with that emotion and how we should react. If we are mad, we should calm down in our calm down spot. If we are scared, we should snuggle with our favorite stuffed animal. These plates help me to peel back my daughter's layers and figure out what her true feelings are-not the one's that are for show or she easily identifies with.

Do you have any great ideas that help your child to identify with their emotions? I am always looking for ideas to implement with my daughter. Please post them in the comment section!

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