I can’t think of another time in history when social and emotional support for kids was so important. There is so much uncertainty in their little worlds, which is compounded by our lack of answers to all of their questions. I feel that we as parents and caregivers need to shift our focus toward how our children are feeling, seeing, questioning, believing, hearing, loving, and experiencing. I have come to accept the fact that my third-grader might not nail multiplication quite as fast when taught via Zoom, but at least I can help teach him healthy ways to express his frustration. We can’t prevent our children from experiencing hardships, but I believe that it is our job as parents and guardians to give our children the tools to deal with them. Here are some social and emotional support resources for kids of all ages.
Breathe Like A Bear: 30 Mindful Moments for Kids to Feel Calm and Focused Anytime, Anywhere by Kira Willey
Breath is a magical, mysterious thing. Each and every one of us performs this action between 17,280 and 23,040 times per day. We often don’t think about how we are breathing though, and when anxiety hits or we are worried, we take shallow breaths. I am SO guilty of this. I often feel light-headed and anxious merely because I wasn’t taking full breaths. This book provides social and emotional support for kids by showing them that a. it is ok to feel this way, other people do and b. brings them into their bodies, to focus on just their breath.
The other night, my 6-year-old performed her nightly routine of repeatedly getting out of bed after I tucked her in. When I say repeatedly, I am talking 10 times. Finally, during the 10th time, exasperated and exhausted, I asked, “WHAT IS THE MATTER NOW?” She looked at me and said, “Don’t you know that I am scared?” Honestly, no. I didn’t know that she was scared. I just thought she was deliberately trying to piss me off. We don’t always have the right read on our children’s emotions, whether we aren’t asking the right questions, don’t have time to focus, or they aren’t able to open up.
This game helps them discover feelings in themselves as well as learn to cope with them in socially appropriate ways while playing. Social and emotional support for kids is so incredibly important, and if they can play this game with friends (distance-wise, with masks, you know the drill) it might help everyone understand that we all have feelings, and all feelings are ok to have.
The Honeycomb Project- Family Volunteer Opportunities
Some volunteer opportunities have age restrictions, some are for all ages
Getting out of your own head and doing something for someone else can lessen your burden. In Chicago, we are fortunate enough to have a few family volunteer opportunities such as The Honeycomb Project. This organization helps families learn about social issues that Chicagoans face while engaging, mobilizing, and inspiring kids through volunteering. It provides social and emotional support for kids by connecting them with others who have a desire to help, and feeling good about the work they are doing. During the pandemic, they have also created Honeycomb at Home which is a free online program that has DIY projects, education, discussion guides, and more.
Coping Skills for Teens Workbook by Janine Halloran, M.A., LMHC
I met Janine Halloran at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair years ago, and her insight and honest desire to help kids made quite an impression on me. I subscribe to her email list and I have found numerous coping skills for my own children to use. After requests from customers who purchased her Coping Skills for Kids products, Janine wrote and published a Teen Workbook. In it, she details 60 ways for teens to deal with Stress, Anxiety and Anger…which pretty much sums up the teen years for many.
I hadn’t heard of this concept until I saw it on the Coping Skills website. A Hoberman Sphere is a structure (patented by Chuck Hoberman) that resembles a dome but can fold down to a fraction of its normal size by the use of scissor-like joints. These spheres are often marketed as children’s toys, but can also be used to guide deep breathing. As you breathe in, expand the sphere to mimic your abdomen filling up with air. As you breathe out, compress the sphere, again mimicking your abdomen, contracting and emptying of air. These spheres can be found for under $10 on Amazon, but try to check your local toy store first!
Movies To Spark Discussions
The Mighty Ducks, Miracle, Rudy, Wonder, Slumdog Millionaire, The Pursuit of Happyness, Soul Surfer, The Blind Side, Brave, Finding Nemo
Having a discussion about a shared experience (for example, a movie) can make having tough conversations much easier. Lessons like resilience, understanding privilege, perseverance, learning from failure, overcoming obstacles and kindness can all be found in the titles above. Movies provide social and emotional support for kids by showing them ways other people deal with issues and that things DO go wrong in life.
I love family movie nights- we get a chance to snuggle on the couch, make popcorn, and just relax with each other. No pressure. No expectations. The thing I don’t like is when my kid argue about what movie to watch. This can go on for a solid 30 minutes, which eats into their movie time AND makes them angry, which both contribute to a difficult bedtime. I am going to make a weekly movie schedule for our family- agreed upon movies for certain nights that are posted in advance. No arguments.
Cheers to all of the parents and guardians who are investing in their children’s social and emotional foundations. You are giving them the tools to use for the rest of their adolescence and into their adult life. Bravo!!!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I may make a small commission if you purchase through links in my post, but you don’t pay extra. Win-win. Muchas gracias.
Love all of your ideas and suggestions!!!
Thank you! These kids just need the tools to deal with their emotions and feelings!