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  • Writer's pictureHello Happy Learner

Exploring Emotions Adventure - Parent's Guide

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

Here you will find help, ideas and tips to help your happy learner make the most of their adventure.

Identifying our feelings

Emotional Literacy Understanding that all emotions are needed in our lives can be difficult for children. They can also struggle to identify how they are feeling or recognise those feelings in others. Learning about our emotions, how to identify them and how to manage our feelings is part of emotional literacy. The games on page 17 of Conker's Adventure are designed to support your happy learner in learning to identify how they and others might be feeling by learning more about how our bodies respond to different feelings. Tips & Ideas to support emotional literacy: When reading or watching stories together, pause and discuss how the characters might be feeling. Talk about how you can tell this. How are they acting? Are they shouting? How are they holding their head (up high or hanging down, looking at the ground)? Narrate how you are feeling. If your child is having difficulty identifying feelings in others they may benefit from you stating how you are feeling at points throughout the day. You may wish to discuss with them why you are feeling that way. Remember to keep it age appropriate. This can also help demonstrate that we all experience a mixture of emotions throughout the day and that this can be normal. Support their identification - if your child struggles to identify their own emotions it may help to articulate your observations of their emotions. For example, 'I have noticed that you are being a little quiet, and seem a bit sad. Would you like to talk?' Remember all emotions are good - as hard as it can be at times we want to strive to support our children in all of their emotions and demonstrate that they are all healthy and necessary emotions. Children can become very upset over things that we wouldn't notice, such as a cookie breaking. These emotions are very real to them and are valid. Later, we will discuss ways to change the emotions we feel to events by changing our beliefs about them. If they have experienced great sadness over a crumbling cookie, when they are calm you may wish to use the information later to help them change their beliefs about broken biscuits. Recognising if our emotional reaction is helpful - once children can identify their emotions they can begin to decide if that emotion is helping them in that particular situation. For example, having red emotions when we make a mistake in maths is not helpful as we will struggle to think clearly so we may benefit to changing our feelings to a calmer yellow or green will help us concentrate on the problem and find a strategy to address it. However, a red emotion of fear and terror may be exactly what we need when faced by an angry bear, to provide the adrenalin we need to RUN!

Blue, Green, Yellow & Red feelings

Some emotions and responses have social and cultural stigmas attached (David et al. 2014). This can make it so we feel that some emotions are unwanted or even wrong to experience. Understanding our emotions, being able to identify them and appreciate when we experience them can help improve our wellbeing. Leah Kuypers, an occupational therapist, categorises the emotions we feel into 'zones' (Zones of Regulation). These zones are designed to help children identify their emotions and respond accordingly. Zones of Regulation teaches children to recognise when their emotions are being helpful and when they are unhelpful. As discussed in our adventure, it is when these emotions are not helpful in that situation that we want to use tools and strategies to manage our feelings to help us get to an emotional state that allows us to deal with the situation we are in. The feeling categories are: Blue - These are often the feelings we think of as sad or tired. They can make us feel slow or lacking in energy/motivation. Green - These are our happy or content feelings. We are normally feeling relatively calm and in control. It is during these feelings that we are most effective at learning and processing our thoughts. Because of its positive effect on learning, schools often encourage pupils to be experiencing green emotions in class. This is often thought of as the ideal place to be, but it is not always useful. Consider someone who is in danger and needs to act quickly. Remaining in a laid back, content emotion may not produce the response needed to save them. Yellow - These are the feelings that make us react a little quicker, such as feeling nervous, anxious or a bit excited. In the right situation, these are useful emotions as they can release a little adrenaline to help us react with more speed, or alert us that something may not be safe. During these emotions, children should find that they remain largely in control of the decisions they make and can move to different emotions as appropriate. Red - These feelings are those that make us very alert. They can make it very hard to control our body and responses. Anger, devastation and excitement are examples of red feelings. During these emotions, such as being very excited, we can find it difficult to control the decisions and responses we make and may need more support to help us manage our feelings. As with blue feelings, red feelings can have social and cultural stigmas attached which can make getting support and discussing them afterwards particularly difficult. Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy can help when we find that we experience these emotions in inappropriate situations. This is discussed on the next.

David, O., Matu, S., Pintea, S. Cotet, C. and Nagy, D. (2014) Cognitive-Behaviour Process on Using the ABC Analysis by Trainees' for Their Personal Development. Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy, 32, (3), 198-215. Zone of Regulation - THE ZONES OF REGULATION: A CONCEPT TO FOSTER SELF-REGULATION & EMOTIONAL CONTROL - Welcome

Changing how we feel

Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (David et al., 2014) is an approach to cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) established in 1955 by Dr Albert Ellis (Wood et al., 2017). REBT focusses on the ability to identify and convert irrational beliefs into rational ones (Wood et al., 2017; Turner, 2016). REBT develops the understanding that it is not external events that cause their emotional or behavioural responses but their beliefs about those events (Turner, 2016; Dryden, 2012; David et al., 2014). It is recognised that beliefs can be rational, which produce healthy responses, or irrational, which produce unhealthy responses (Turner, 2016; Dryden, 2012; David et al., 2014). Rational beliefs are flexible (Turner, 2016) they can recognise that the individual desires an outcome but that they acknowledge and accept that it may not happen (Dryden, 2012), and are logical (Turner, 2016). Irrational beliefs contrast with this, as they are rigid in nature (Turner, 2016; David et al., 2014) using words such as ‘must’ or ‘should’ (David et al., 2014) and are illogical (Turner, 2016). REBT has been shown to have a significant improvement on depressive symptoms (Lyons and Woods, 1991 cited in Trower and Jones, 2001) and has shown to help primary aged children develop their rational thinking skills (Caruso et al., 2017; Liu et al., 2011). Understanding how beliefs, particularly irrational beliefs, affect responses gives individuals control over how they respond to negative events and situations (Turner, 2016). Both Caruso et al. (2017) and Liu et al. (2011) have shown positive findings in relation to primary aged children and improvements in their ability to think rationally. Turner (2016) stated that REBT is not a complex approach and allows individuals to understand their emotional and behavioural responses. REBT is a relatively simple intervention but takes time to practice and develop an understanding, especially for young children, which is supported by Caruso et al.’s (2017) call for REBT to be incorporated into primary classrooms. In the example earlier, on page 11 of this guide, where a young child becomes deeply upset by a biscuit breaking we can identify that the belief - that a broken biscuit is bad - is irrational. The biscuit will break anyway while being eaten, will taste just as good whole or broken and that (unless dropped) we still have the same amount of biscuit to eat. However, young children don't always share this belief. Their belief may be irrational, such as that now the biscuit is broken there is less of it or it now can't be eaten. Helping children to change the way they feel about events, means we need to help them understand their beliefs. As discussed on page 12 of this guide children & adults can find it difficult to identify their emotions (David et al., 2014; Sarracino et al., 2016) and may need adult support especially as often the emotions they need help with can have social and cultural stigma attached (David et al., 2014). To support them, comfort them in the emotion and wait until they are in a green, calm emotion to discuss their emotion and belief. Research has found that people can struggle to challenge and change their irrational beliefs (Sarracino et al., 2016). Any changes may take time and repeated conversations before you begin to see change. Some children can show strong emotional or behavioural reactions to events where the responses are not logical and are detrimental to the children. The literature on REBT suggests that supporting the children to be able to identify the beliefs that drive their responses to events could help them to reduce their detrimental behaviour. One approach which may support their understanding and so their ability to independently apply it to personal situations would be to explore REBT using characters in books and movies. You may find it most effective to select examples where the characters display emotions and beliefs that have social and emotional stigmas attached. Why not have a go at using REBT yourself? You may find that you benefit from it yourself and find it easier to use with your child (David et al., 2014).

Caruso, C., Angelone, L., Ionni, V., Biondi, C., Agostino, C., Mobili. A., Verita, R., Navarra, R., Ruggiero, G. and Mezzaluna, C. (2017) Effects of a REBT Based Training on Children and Teachers in Primary School. Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy, 1-14. David, O., Matu, S., Pintea, S. Cotet, C. and Nagy, D. (2014) Cognitive-Behaviour Process on Using the ABC Analysis by Trainees' for Their Personal Development. Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy, 32, (3), 198-215. Dryden, W. (2012) The "ABC's" of REBT III: A Study of Errors and Confusions Made by Ellis and Joffe Ellis (2011). Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy, 30, (3), 188-201. Liu, E., Ho, H. and Song, Y. (2011) Effects of an online rational emotive curriculum on primary school students' tendencies for online and real-world aggression. The Turkish Online Journal of Education Technology, 10, (3), 83-93. Sarracino, D., Dimaggio, G., Ibrahim, R., Popolo, R., Sassaroli, S. and Ruggiero, G. (2016) When REBT Goes Difficult: Applying ABC-DEF to Personality Disorders. Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy, 35, (3), 278-295. Trower, P. and Jones, J. (2001) How REBT can be less disturbing and remarkably more influetntial in Britain: A review of views of practioners and reserchers. Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy, 19, (1), 21-30. Turner, M. (2016) Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), Irrational and Rational Beliefs, adn the Mental Health of Athletes. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1-16. Article 1423. Wood, A., Barker, J. and Turner, M. (2017) Developing Performance Using Rational Emotive Behviour Therapy (REBT): A Case Study with an Elite Archer. The Sports Psychologist, 31, 78-87.

Chameleons & Habitats

Our adventure includes an exciting introduction to the world of chameleons as inspired by Conker. Can you and your happy learner take this further? What more can you discover about chameleons? What is the strangest fact you can find? Try using books, the internet and TV to find out more. Is there somewhere you can go to see a chameleon in real life? Children spend most of their lives learning from others. This is a wonderful opportunity for them to become the expert and share their knowledge. With your support could they present what they find to a family member or friend? Prep the person receiving the information to encourage them to be surprised and fascinated by the information they are given. Can your child find out more about other animals that might share the same habitat as a chameleon? What do they have in common that helps them live in that habitat? What is different about them and how does this help them survive? Have fun in creating the habitat. Your child may chose to make it and their chameleon as accurate as possible. If they are struggling to engage with the research they may wish to create a wild and wonderful habitat that is unlike any we might find on our planet. What could it be made from? What colours would it be? What else would be different about it? This can be a fabulous opportunity for them to apply what they know about habitats and the way animals have evolved and adapted to survive there. What adaptations and changes would their chameleon need so that it can survive. What other animals might be there? Try going out and looking at different habitats for inspiration. What lives there? What is the habitat like? How have the animals adapted? Can they take pictures of the habitats and animals? Can they draw their favourite part of the area? What would their ideal habitat be? What would be in it? What adaptations would they need to survive there? For example, would they need to be able to breath underwater or to defy gravity? What other animals might live there with them? When reading or watching stories set in other worlds or imaginary places unlike those on Earth, what are they like? What is different about them? What do we recognise from Earth? How have the people or animals adapted to survive? In stories where the main character is an animal with human characteristics, such as The Tales of Peter Rabbit, what changes have the authors/writers made to the habitat to combine ideas and features from human and animal homes?

If you are concerned about your child's mental health see a professional.

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