What do parents want most for their children? According to a survey, happiness came out top for most countries. Even if it wasn’t the top, it was a close second. The problem with that, as Jennifer Senior so rightly expressed, is that happiness is a very high bar and much of the advice on raising happy kids warns us that focusing on happiness is the wrong way to go.
According to the Grant Study, the one thing that makes us consistently happy are our relationships with other people. In other words, having good friends. If we want our children to be happy, the goal should be to teach them how to make friends and keep them. For that, children need good social skills. – How to Raise a Happy Child
- Neuro-Dramatic Play – Developing Social Emotional Resilience and Empathy
- The MindUP Curriculum – which incorporates social emotional development
- Teaching Children Empathy
- Sports and physical activity – kids who are active in sports have better emotional management and social skills
Another way to help young children explore emotions and develop social emotional skills are with Kimochis. Some of the concepts are quite similar to Neuro-Dramatic Play…
Kimochis are toys with feelings inside – (Kee-Mo-Chee means “feeling” in Japanese). They are small pillows with a feeling (happy, sad, silly, brave) printed on one side, and a corresponding facial expression on the other. Each Kimochi character comes with a set of three feelings and a How-To Kimochis feel guide. The characters also have a special pocket where kids can store their “Kimochis” – or feelings. Using the characters and their Kimochis, children can get in touch with their emotions through puppetry and play. The feel guide (preview below) introduces the fun and quirky personalities of each character and offers parents fun tips and engaging activities to help strengthen parent child connections and develop healthy social and emotional skills.
Bug is a caterpillar who is afraid of change. He is thoughtful, cautious and he has secret dreams of flying. Bug’s wings tuck away in a pocket on his back, and he comes with 3 feelings: Happy, Brave, and Left Out.
Cat is a decisive leader and can be very persuasive. Her bossiness can sometimes lead to confrontation and occasional “cat fights”. Cat comes with five bandages to help heal hurt feelings, and these 3 feelings: Happy, Curious, and Cranky.
Huggtopus is all smiles and giggles. She is very affectionate and strong and sometimes she gets a little carried away by her big friendly personality. Huggs always means well but she needs to learn about boundaries. Huggtopus comes with 3 feelings: Happy, Frustrated, and Silly. Unlike her friends, Huggtopus stores her feelings in her mouth.
Clover is a four-leafed clover with bad luck. Clover comes with his lucky, removable ladybug, Howard. Clover’s 3 feelings are Happy, Optimistic, and Disappointed.
Bella Rose is sensitive and sweet. When her feelings get hurt, Bella Rose has a hard time expressing herself and tends to close up into a bud. Bella Rose comes with three feelings: Happy, Sensitive, and Insecure.
Cloud is like the weather – a bit unpredictable. One day he is happy, the next he is mad, and the next day, who knows – maybe sad or even happy again! Because Cloud can be moody, it is sometimes hard for him to get along with others. Cloud can show his mood with a simple turn of his head – he has a happy face on one side and a sad face on the other.
Lovey Dove is nurturing and patient and, like all doves, likes to keep the peace. Lovey comes with her baby, Turtle Dove, tucked gently underneath her wing. Her three feelings are Happy, Hopeful, and Proud.
- Bug Makes a Splash! – Bug is afraid to try new things. When his friends invite him for a swim, he would much rather stay at home and read a good book. When Lovey Dove reminds Bug that it’s okay to be afraid, Bug finds the courage to overcome his scared feelings and dives right into the fun surprising everyone! Bug Makes a Splash is a sweet reminder for reluctant children on the meaning of being brave and offers caregivers simple tips to help children find the courage to spread their wings and fly.
- Cat’s No-So-Perfect Sandcastle – Cat is determined to build a perfect sandcastle. When her friends come to help, can cat remember to add teamwork and fun to the day?
- Cloud’s Best Worst Day Ever – Cloud was having the BEST day, until everything started to go wrong. When Cloud bursts and rains on everyone’s parade, his nurturing friend Lovey Dove reminds him that it’s okay to be mad, but it’s not okay to be mean. With the support of his friends, Cloud apologizes and ends up joining in the fun. With endearing characters and beautifully detailed illustrations, Cloud’s Best Worst Day Ever is a gentle story that can help children learn how to handle upset feelings and cloudy moods.