If your child has made it onto Santa’s naughty list more than once this year, it might be time to give them some gifts that will help them to manage their emotions in the coming year.
Here are some of my favourites for helping kids manage and work through difficult emotional states.
PUNCHING BAG – emotions are simply energy in motion – energy that needs to move. One of the easiest ways to work through anger is to use that energy to do something physical – go for a run or a swim, break something (safely) or punch a punching bag. Anger is the “fight” side of fight or flight and that adrenalin needs to be worked out of the body. A punching bag is a great gift for releasing anger in a constructive way without hurting anyone.
CLAY OR PLAY DOUGH – like with the punching bag, having some clay to mould and bash and pummel into shape can also help to release strong emotions (or you could just throw it across the room which helps too!). Using strong emotions to create something or even just to work out energy can easily be done with something like clay, play dough or plasticine.
DIARY – my older daughter started saying some pretty mean things to her sister, so I bought her a diary. I explained to her that we all feel hateful sometimes and want to say nasty things – it’s normal and nothing to be ashamed about. However, we can’t go around blurting out everything that goes through our minds as it can be hurtful to others and we can’t take it back afterwards. I told her that she can say absolutely anything in her diary. This gives her an opportunity to release the anger rather than repressing it without destroying her relationship with her sister.
CRAYONS AND LARGE DRAWING PAD – for younger kids (and for some of the older ones) it may work better to draw ones feelings. Try to find a really large drawing pad so that they are not restricted and can really go wild on the paper. Tell your kids that whenever they are feeling really angry or sad or hurt (or even really happy) they can draw a picture of what that feels like. Then if they want to they can always (with help) burn it, or tear it up, or carry on drawing and transform it into something beautiful!
MAGICAL BREATHING CHAIR – I’m not really a big fan of the naughty corner (or the grow good corner for that matter), but we do all need a space where we can go to calm down and take some time out when the going gets tough. I think that a magical breathing chair is a great gift so that kids have their own special, beautiful place that they can choose to go to to have some quiet time. Find a chair that is big enough for you to climb onto it with them if they need your company, and that they can grow into and use as a reading corner later on.
BOOKS – there are some amazing books out there on helping kids to understand and cope with strong emotions. I believe that the younger we give kids these tools the less emotional baggage they’ll carry with them throughout their lives. These are some of my favourites, but with a quick trip online or to your local bookshop you’ll find a whole lot more:
Ahn’s Anger by Gail Silver
The Angry Octopus by Lori Light
Mister Ego and The Bubble of Love by Eckhart Tolle
The Adventures of Lulu by Louise Hay
The giving of gifts is a great tradition, and made so much more meaningful if we can give our children gifts that will help them to transform their year ahead.