After a full September and October of impromptu playground dates, our family took some time for us during the holidays. What did moms do before texting? Live by the phone? We've recently started up again with a neighbor and her two girls down the street, ages 2 and almost 5.
For my daughter, who will be 3 next month, she falls awkwardly in between the girls. The play date had several bumps.
Thank goodness for books! A loves them and readily imagines herself in the place of the main character. Even at 10 months, E loves when we play actor with emotions and tries hard to imitate us. I'm trying hard to stay neutral and simply label emotions or ask simple questions so both kids figure out how good/bad something feels. Every emotion is appropriate sometimes.
"How does her face look?"
"Right, her tears mean she could be sad or mad."
"Why might she be crying?"
"How could _ be a good friend to him?"
"You're feeling jealous when you want some one else's toy. Jealous."
"What would make it right if you were lonely?"
We'll be scheduling another play date for this rainy February weather soon. A keeps asking "Did you talk to her mom?" and I like the mom a lot. She's got a good perspective on life.
Here are just a few titles that help both kids sort through moods and emotions.
These are my opinions and thoughts. I was not solicited or compensated by anyone. We found these at our local library.
Leslie Patricelli's 4 title set
Baby Happy, Baby Sad.
No, no, yes, yes.
These are so simple, they read almost like flashcards: very clear illustrations. Try acting them out for your baby. There are more than a few pages that make an older toddler or adult giggle... perfect for 9mo+, may introduce toddlers over 18mo to behavior you might not appreciate ;-)
Jana Novotny Hunter
I Have Feelings!
The illustrations do a great job of supporting the mood with colors and exaggerated actions. All the situations follow a little kid through his or her day (family-centered activities with a mom, dad, older sibling and younger sister). Probably best for 15mo+, but good acting and simple reading could capture the attention of younger emerging toddlers.
Happy Hippo, Angry Duck: A Book of Moods
Most parents are familiar with Boyton's rhyming board books. These fun books make adults happy when kids want the same one over and over again. For babies who have just started to say 1 word, or imitate animals noises, this book is perfect. It scaffolds moods. Yay, i+1! The illustrations aren't completely clear, so you may want to be the actor for younger ones, and encourage participation from toddlers older than 15 mo.
Franklin is Bossy
Ok, yes, we read our first Franklin book thanks to Chick-Fil-A's kids' meal toy. Franklin himself falls into a 4-6 year preschooler's development. Most titles have to do with a problem that Franklin finds himself in (bossy, forgiving, getting lost, fibbing, etc), and help show the reader how Franklin resolves it. This title was great after our last play date, because there is almost no parental involvement... just Franklin and his friends figuring out how to play together. The books don't always label feelings, so we looked at the pictures and took time to guess how Franklin and his friends were feeling.
Almost, I almost just wished for an age when play dates don't involve a week of debrief. The next thought? "Teenagers!" Guess that thought is unrealistic ;-) My hope for A and E, and their friends, is that they grow into emotionally-savvy people. Being sad is okay. Same with anger. It's how we next act on those emotions that make it good or bad. So often, adults have an obvious emotional reaction and we do such a poor job of covering up with words or faking through the emotional time "For the kids' sake". It's so obvious to my kids; I want to help them label the emotion and know what to do for others because it will help them also grow into Christ-like people.
Do you have a title for your kids that works well?
How about when you were growing up? Did you live through certain characters?