Life requires us to adapt to changing social and emotional conditions every day. Having the tools to help build emotional awareness and strength is critical to a child’s success in relationships at school, in sports, and in life. I have developed some activities inspired by the book, Your Heart Compass, to help you and your child start building a foundation for healthy emotional agility practices.
When your child finds themselves overwhelmed by a feeling of self-doubt, stress, anger, or sadness, they may feel as if they are being swept up in a storm of emotion. The feeling can be hard for them to navigate and regulate. Your heart compass is a helpful guide.
Think of your heart compass as an emotional agility training tool to help you shift from a stormy feeling to a safe feeling. With practice, your heart compass can help you focus your feelings and actions on joy, kindness, courage and calm no matter where you are.
Thoughtful Conversations – After reading Your Heart Compass, discuss the four points of positive emotional direction on your child’s heart compass. On the worksheet titled My Feelings, work with your child to help them describe or draw times when they feel joyful, kind, courageous and calm. Talking with your child and collaborating on these points together will help create a picture, and an understanding, of what can help your child to feel strong and safe during emotional times.
Mindful Practices – Learning how to access a safe space inside ourselves is an important exercise in emotional regulation and agility. Meditation is a great way for children and parents to pause for a moment and tune in to their hearts. In 2-3 minutes, a child can connect with the rhythm of their heartbeat and regulate, or re-direct, their emotions toward positive feelings like joy, kindness, courage or calm. Try this HeartBEAT meditation with your child.
Creative Practices – Creativity is a fun way for children to express themselves thoughtfully and productively. Using their imagination, encourage your child to describe what makes them feel excited and alive! Consider opening the conversation with questions like: do you feel alive when you ride a horse or a bicycle? Do you feel free when you swim in the ocean or play with animals? Do you feel like a superhero when you run fast or ski down a hill? Your child’s favourite activities say a lot about their passions.
This worksheet is a fun place to explore your “soulware” and think about the joyful, kind, courageous and calm things in your life that make you… YOU!
On the worksheet titled My Map, start by talking with your child about the different “storms” that come up in social situations. Listen for words like frustrated, worried, mean and loud. Work together to write words or draw pictures on the map that describe and illustrate when and where your child feels these strong, stormy feelings. This will create a picture of when and how your child experiences challenging social emotional situations.
Listening and exploring this topic with kids in a gentle way helps them feel less alone in their emotions and provides a framework for parents to offer help and guidance. Your heart compass is a great helper!
“The more you practice using your heart compass,
the stronger you will become.”
– Megan Lammam, Author, Your Heart Compass (2021)