Emotions can be a difficult thing to understand. As adults, even we have trouble handling our emotions sometimes. For kids who are still learning to communicate, putting their feelings into words can feel impossible. My daughter recently turned 2, and although she has quite the vocabulary, she often has trouble communicating her feelings. She has recently started throwing bigger tantrums when she is angry (hello terrible twos!), and makes claims that she is afraid of the dark. (One of her favorite things to do is hide in closets or our shed, so I’m pretty sure this claim is more of a bedtime stalling tactic than an actual fear). I have been trying lots of techniques to help her handle the big emotions she experiences. So far, the greatest one has been the introduction of the Moodsters.
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The Moodsters are a team of feelings detectives whose main goal is to teach kids about emotions and give them simple strategies to handle them. There are 5 Moodsters each of whom correspond to a specific emotion. Quigly is afraid of lots of things, and he helps kids learn how to manage fears. Lolly teaches kids to be loving. Coz represents happiness, and he teaches kids that helping others can make you happy. Snorf is always a little blue (figuratively and literally), and he helps kids to manage sadness. Finally, Razzy represents anger, and she helps kids to deal with situations that make them mad.
These 5 characters use their skills to solve mysteries involving feelings. They have a range of books and toys which help kids to deal with specific emotions, and to build a vocabulary to express their emotions through words. The products also provide helpful tips for adults to extend the learning and help kids put their strategies to use. By creating an open dialogue about feelings, you can allow kids to feel comfortable talking to you when they are dealing with big emotions.
We were given the opportunity to try The Feelings Flashlight and the Snorf Talking Plush, both of which come with corresponding books. The Feelings Flashlight projects images of the 5 Moodsters onto the wall, and says lots of phrases to engage your child in conversation, as well as physical activities. For example, Razzy asks kids about a situation that made them angry before. Coz encourages them to do a happy dance. The Flashlight also shares “Moodster Moments”, which repeat the rhyming strategies for dealing with emotions. The book that came with the flashlight is called “The Scary Sleepover“. It tells the story of brother and sister pair Zach and Zoey as they have a sleepover in their treehouse. When Zach becomes afraid, the Moodsters come to the rescue and help him manage his fears.
Snorf the Talking Plush is an adorable little stuffed doll who shares several phrases. Since the emotion he represents is sadness, his phrases revolve around cheering up those who are sad. His corresponding book is an activity book with tips and activities for dealing with sadness. My daughter has always been an empathetic child, crying when other people cry and trying to comfort those who are upset. This toy kicked that instinct into overdrive as she spends time trying to comfort Snorf and make him happy. She loves carrying him around and taking him to bed with her. I love that he encourages kids to talk about their feelings and help those who are sad.
As I stated before, my daughter has been dealing with fear and anger lately. Within one day of playing with the Moodsters, I was already seeing a difference! She started repeating the strategies along with the flashlight, and started putting them to use. When an incident at her gym class caused her to get upset, I pulled her to the side and asked her what she should do when she is mad. She remembered the flashlight’s suggestion to take a breath and count to ten, and that is exactly what she did! Over the last few weeks, she has even started repeating the phrases without prompting. While we still have had a few emotional outbursts (after all she is only 2), it has definitely become easier to talk to her about what she is feeling.
Learning to work through emotions
When I put her in bed the first night with the flashlight, she told me again that she was afraid of the dark. We used the flashlight to remember the fear strategies, and she told me that her flashlight helps her to not be afraid. Again, I will repeat that her fear of the dark was less of an actual fear than a stalling tactic. So I am not claiming that this product will magically resolve your child’s night terrors. However, the strategies that the Moodsters teach can help to ease your child’s fears over time, and give them a vocabulary to express those feelings to you.
Recently, she had one of those toddler tantrums where nothing worked to calm her down. I calmly asked if she wanted to tell Snorf why she was so upset and she ran to get him, snuggled him close and talked to him. I was amazed! Now when something scares her or makes her sad, she grabs Snorf or another stuffed animal nearby and comforts them. By encouraging her to help others, the Moodsters have helped her to be brave in the face of big emotions that she is dealing with!
Using Flashlights to Explore Feelings
My daughter loves using her Moodster flashlight. We sometimes forget as adults how fun flashlights can actually be! I decided to create a game for her to use her flashlight to review what she has learned from the Moodsters. This is something that you can do with your kids with a plain flashlight as well. Print out the Feelings Faces printable page and cut out the faces. Attach them to the wall with tape, or arrange them on the floor. Dim the lights in the room and give your child a flashlight. Explain to them that you will call out emotions or situations and they should point the flashlight beam to the face that represents the emotion, or the emotion they would feel if they faced that situation.
This activity not only allows kids to have fun with a flashlight, but also allows them to practice recognizing emotions in facial expressions. It also gives them an opportunity to think about how they would react to certain scenarios and how they would feel when confronted with a big emotion. This can open up a great conversation about how to deal with these big emotions and how to use your coping tactics.
I am so blown away by the amazing way that the Moodsters have helped my daughter to deal with emotions that we have already purchased another one of the toys for her! I have definitely seen a difference in how she handles big emotions, and it is getting easier for her to put her feelings into words. The handy rhyming strategies that the Moodsters provide make her better equipped to handle emotional situations when they come up. I highly recommend these products to parents, teachers, grandparents and caregivers!
How do you help your kids to talk about their emotions? Share in the comments below!