Emotions and feelings shouldn’t be a hard thing, although ask any man in an all-female household and he will tell you he is screwed when it comes to feelings and emotions.
My husband once questioned our six-year-old daughter, Bunny, about the outfit she chose to wear for picture day. His question was less about what he asked and more about how he asked the question. Bunny took immediate offense to his question and burst into tears.
But, as much as Bunny has no problem expressing some emotions, others are locked deep inside her.
Bunny has Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), and as I’ve written before, RAD is a disorder of relationships. At some point during Bunny’s development, a trauma occurred. Her particular trauma came from the transfer from her birth mother to her foster mother, then the transfer from her foster mother to us, and then a daily transfer from us to a nanny.
During those multiple traumas, Bunny wasn’t able to create all the brain connections she needed to have a healthy brain. However, through targeted RAD therapy, those brain connections can be rebuilt in order for Bunny to have the ability to form solid relationships.
For example, Bunny understands the core emotions of mad, sad, happy, and scared. Where she gets confused is with the more subtle emotions that spin off those core emotions. She understands mad, but rather than feeling a more appropriate feeling like disappointment, she becomes angry and her behaviors reflect the basic emotion rather than the more sophisticated emotion.
We work a lot with the subtlety of emotions. We mirror feelings with her and have her mirror them back. Or, she stands in front of a mirror and practices making faces…that is when she isn’t posing in front of the mirror. It seems sort of infantile for Bunny to do this, especially when she is intellectually ahead of her peers, but she is emotionally delayed and she needs to catch up.
So, I came up with a creative and fun way for her to help identify her feelings. I created a Bucketful ‘O Feelings. I bought a bucket and filled it with dry beans. Then I cut out pictures of faces showing emotions such as happy, sad, mad, scared, excited, bored, etc. I glued them to colorful card stock, and then glued them to popsicle sticks. I arranged them in the bucket like a bouquet of flowers.
The next time Bunny gets stuck on an emotion, she can pluck out the one that best describes how she is feeling and hold it up to her face. Then she can practice making the face herself. And, we can keep adding more sophisticated emotions as she gets better.
It may seem silly, but if the bucket of feelings helps her learn, then I’ll continue to keep my hot glue gun plugged in and ready!
Photo Credit. LanitaM