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'In My Heart' - Read and Rise May 2021 (with feelings song!)

 

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases - at zero cost to you.


Since May is Mental Health Month, I wanted to devote our Read and Rise Books to helping children develop emotional and mental health. It is such an important topic - especially during these unprecedented and challenging times - and is vital to nurturing a strong sense of self in our children. Plus, learning more about our emotions and mental health can help all of us as well!

This week, we're going to start out simple and just discuss emotions in general. Before children can learn to cope with big feelings, they need to have a basic understanding of what those feelings are! 

There are so many great books about feelings (I'll be sharing more throughout the week) but what I love about "In My Heart" by Jo Witek is how she describes her heart as a house that holds all of her feelings. It reminded me of the mantra "Be the pond." In short, "be the pond" means you that you are the pond and all your feelings are fish swimming around in the pond. "Be the pond" reminds you that you are not your feelings and you have the power to hold on to those feelings or just let them swim on by (it is definitely healthier to let them swim on by!). We'll talk more about HOW to let go of those feelings over the next few weeks, but for now, we'll get back to just discussing our various feelings.

One other thing I want to mention about "In My Heart" is that I LOVE that Jo Witek includes shy as one of the feelings in her heart. I was told all the time when I was young that I was shy and I never realized that shy was a feeling - I thought I WAS shy. And that influenced how I approached life and uncomfortable situations. I can't change being shy, but I can find strategies that help me to not feel shy. I think that's an important thing to note when discussing feelings with young children - phrase it as a feeling about a certain situation instead of a state of being. For example, "It seems like you're feeling anxious about starting a new dance class" rather than, "You're so anxious."

And now, on to our story and activity!



Activity: This week I challenge you to discuss feelings every day! The Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation has a fantastic list of ideas for teaching children about emotions! You can choose a different activity for each day or repeat the same one (like discussing characters' feelings in your bedtime stories or having dinnertime discussions about situations during the day that made you feel a certain way). Anything that will help children identify emotions they are feeling and start to notice how other people are feeling.

If your children like singing, here's a fun one I used to sing with my preschoolers whenever we were talking about feelings and I use it now and then with my own children (just remember it's always more fun when you're overdramatic!):

If You're Happy and You Know It (Feelings version)

If you're happy and you know it, smile wide!
If you're happy and you know it, smile wide!
If you're happy and you know it and you really want to show it, if you're happy and you know it, smile wide!

If you're sad and you know it, pout and cry!
If you're sad and you know it, pout and cry!
If you're sad and you know it and you really want to show it, if you're sad and you know it, pout and cry!

If you're silly and you know it, make a face!
If you're silly and you know it, make a face!
If you're silly and you know it and you really want to show it, if you're silly and you know it, make a face!

If you're angry and you know it, stomp your feet!
If you're angry and you know it, stomp your feet!
If you're angry and you know it and you really want to show it, if you're angry and you know it, stomp your feet!

If you're tired and you know it, lay your head!
If you're tired and you know it, lay your head!
If you're tired and you know it and you really want to show it, if you're tired and you know it, lay your head!

If you're excited and you know it, shout "Hooray!"
If you're excited and you know it, shout "Hooray!"
If you're excited and you know it and you really want to show it, if you're excited and you know it, shout "Hooray!"

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