Tag Archives: emotions

Mood Cards – A Review

Today Sarah from The Puffin Diaries reviews a box of mood cards called The Mood Cards by psychotherapist Andrea Harrn

This is a collect of forty cards and each card represents a single emotion or mood, some positive and some negative feelings. The emotion is illustrated with a simple graphic which is not unlike an emoticon, with a short explanation or statement which represents the emotion. So for example on the card representing CONFIDENT the statement is “I am who I am. Comfortable in my own skin”.

On the reverse of each card there are three questions, under the heading Ask yourself, about the feeling, to help a child explore what that emotion means to them. An example of a question on the CONFIDENT card is “In what area of your life are you most confident?”

Then at the base of the card there is an Affirmation for the child to use to overcome a negative emotion or support a positive emotion.

moods

I bought these cards to use with my children, especially my youngest who often can’t tell me what the emotion is that he is feeling. He may seem angry but I’m aware that there is often an undercurrent of other emotions. What I really like about them is the range of emotions which are represented which offers you the opportunity to explore the subtle differences between certain types of emotions. For example there is a card each for anxious, worried, wary and stressed.  

Also I realised that I tend to concentrate my study of my children’s emotions on mostly there negative feelings but, there is a huge range of positive feelings we can also explore. So I’ve tried to use them during positive times too.

The children seem to really like them, I was worried they might seem a little young for them but at eleven and twelve they have both engaged with using the cards.  In fact to understand the questions and the idea of an affirmation, I think they are more suited to an older child. However, for younger children the front of the card and the simple explanation of the emotion could be used to start with and as they get older you could move onto the back of the card questions and affirmation.

We have used them successfully on a number of occasions to help me understand how both my children feel. My youngest was recently upset when we had guests to stay at fairly short notice. He didn’t deal very well with the unexpected arrangement and was very rude to our guests. Using the cards I discovered a range of emotions he felt about this, instead of just being angry, he was annoyed, worried and stressed.

On the whole I would highly recommend these cards to use with children who struggle to identify their emotions and the subtle differences between some feelings. The only negative thing I have to say is that the use of an affirmation is not easy for my children to grasp and it often hard for them to believe the positive statements about themselves. However that doesn’t mean we don’t try.

You can find out more at www.themoodcards.com

Wreck it Ralph – A DVD review

A Review from The Puffin Diaries of DVD that got her and her son talking……

ralph

My life is a little about coping strategies at the moment, so along with the breaded food that features heavily, so does the television and more accurately DVDs. I find watching a film offers wonderful escapism for both my children and after a difficult day at school it’s often all they are up to. I favour a film over children’s television as it offers extended escapism, without having to switch between channels and we are also more likely to find common viewing in a feature length. On a selfish level, as I often have to be present, I am there to be lent on, to stroke heads and rub shoulders and feet, under the strictest of instructions to put down my laptop and phone, I therefore enjoy a film over and above endless weird “Adventure Time”.

So we had need for a wind down DVD with youngest just the other day and we selected a fairly new addition to our vast collect, Wreck it Ralph. I’ve seen it a couple of times before but during this particular spell, when my youngest is struggling with his self esteem, I quickly realised the relevance of the story unfolding before us.

For those not in the know, Wreck it Ralph is a character form a video game, a game where he is the villain, constantly wrecks a building (knocks it down) and the tenants of the building repair it. In this film the characters from this video game and others, come to life once the video arcade is closed. On the 30th anniversary of the game we see Wreck it Ralph feeling alienated from the other characters of his game as they throw a party he’s not invited to.

It suddenly struck me as we sat there, that what was happening before us was actually a bit like my sons dilemma at school. He has been feeling very insecure and uncertain of himself, convinced that no one in school likes him, not the staff or other pupils.  So I suggested as much “do you maybe feel a little like Ralph, like no one likes you? He stopped and thought and then said “it’s not very nice to feel left out”.

What followed was as near as we’ve ever got to a discussion about emotions and his vulnerability in school. He talked about how Ralph would be feeling, not himself but I felt confident he was relating himself to the character.

Throughout the film there were opportunities to make other little suggestions and comments. Ralph attends a self help group for gaming villains, where they all talk about being left out and cast in a bad light. “See how he talks with other about how he feels and how it helps him”.

And of course in the end he is the hero and so others then see that he is a good character, bit predicable, but at a vulnerable time in a child’s life, an important message to send.

This film is definitely one of my current favourites, I like the message it sends out and is one suitable for all the family.

Do you have a favourite children’s film that has offered up a good opportunity to discuss things going on for your children. Or is there any you would advise families to avoid? Let us know, we are always looking for new reviews.

Admitting feelings

Being an adoptive parent can be quite isolating at the best of times, but so much more so if you’re struggling to find an emotional connection with your child; this stranger who now inhabits, nay, has taken over, your home and to whom you feel you are expected to love unconditionally and even feel grateful for having.

It is well documented on Twitter and elsewhere that my husband and I struggled for the first I would say, 6 months, when our daughter came home. She was nearly 3 when placed but with the vocabulary of a 6 year old, the kick and punch of a prize fighter, the bite of a lion and the emotional age of a 1 year old.

That was tough.

Baby time

So when her baby brother arrived, aged 7.5 months, a contented bundle of cuteness, who had already melted the heart of his sometimes hard-to-reach daddy, I thought, ‘this will be a doddle’. We were well prepared for our daughter’s regression and handled it quite well (notice the careful use of the word ‘quite’!) and when daddy went back to work after his statutory 2 weeks leave, I was ready.

Or so I thought.

It didn’t quite happen like that though. I found having a non-verbal, crawling, demanding baby absolutely exhausting. The sterilising, the second-guessing, the feeling of helplessness, the nappies! I guess most new parents feel like that, and boy, did I feel guilty. On top of that, I also felt resentment. Not towards him I don’t think, but towards Social Services. He had been removed at birth whilst his sister had endured goodness knows what in the ‘family’ home and then nearly 2 years in Foster Care.

It wasn’t fair.

I really struggled to bond with him while I had these battles in my head.
I was really happy he’d been removed early but at the same time I felt let down on his sister’s behalf. I asked one night whether my husband loved our baby and I was taken aback by a man not known for his emotional outpourings to suddenly gush his reply and he even had a tear in his eye. He ended by saying, “Do you?” “Er yes. Obviously,” I replied, hiding my face and quickly changing the subject.

I couldn’t tell him. I went online and found a lot about how ‘I loved our (adopted) baby before we even met, our (adopted) baby is amazing and I love them so much etc’, but there was nobody like me.

I covered up my feelings to everyone but privately spent a lot of time in tears. I was scared to tell our SW, even though in hindsight I am positive she’d be nothing but supportive. I was afraid she’d send somebody round to our house to watch us ‘in action’ (as we had had with our daughter – along with camhs) and having been through it once, the thought of yet more appointments and people watching and judging and coming into our home filled me with dread.

Eventually, one tearful night (wine may have been involved), I spoke to my husband and it all tumbled out. He was fantastic and we resolved to share more of the childcare – it had previously been very much, me and daughter (to whom I have a fantastic attachment – albeit ambivalent on her part but we’re working on that), him and son. I did a lot of hands on with the baby and lots of the Theraplay techniques I’d learnt with our daughter. It didn’t help that we were stuck indoors a lot of the time due to the bad winter.

As the weather began to lift, so did my mood. Seeing the interaction between brother and sister was amazing, as was seeing his development. I vividly remember going into his room one morning, feeling fearful of the day ahead (must have been school holidays!) and he looked up from his cot, gave me a smile that lit up Britain, stretched out his arms and said, “Hiya!”. I wept and it was a turning point.

The reason I’m writing this (and I’m aware of how selfish and dare I say, ungrateful, it makes me sound) is because I surely can’t be the only person that has had these feelings? There must be others who have felt or who are feeling equally as scared, ashamed and guilty and if there are (and I hope you are reading), you must talk to someone, either online or in ‘real life’; there’s nothing to feel bad about and nothing to lose – just a whole lot of happiness to gain.

With very many thanks to the lovely Kat who tweets @On_the_Edge. You can read a little more about her over on our Contributors Page.

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