This is one of our most treasured family routines and one that we use weekly within our home.
I developed this routine for my daughter who was four at the time, as a way to safely share her feelings and understand her emotions.
I needed an activity that gently guided her to be able to identify something that was bothering her, attach an emotion and how she was feeling to the problem and to be able to help her find a solution and develop a plan to move forward.
Reflecting on my own childhood experiences, I know that sharing a problem can feel really BIG, that’s why I wanted to break this down into smaller steps and begin with something that was play based and felt safe for my daughter to engage in.
I decided to bring in drawing and colours as this was something my daughter already loved and felt connected to.
Matching your child's interests when they are feeling insecure is always a great way to begin any activity. You can tailor our Rainbow Feelings activity to match something your child loves.
HOW TO BEGIN MY RAINBOW FEELINGS
Find a safe, quiet space that your child feels comfortable in. It is important that this space is calm and has no interruptions. Creating a feeling of security will allow your child to feel safe enough to share and engage.
Gently introduce them to the My Rainbow Feelings worksheet. I always start with gentle introductions by sharing my own observations and allowing the child to engage when they are ready.
You can use declarative language for this, as a way to reduce the demands or pressure your child may be feeling.
“Oh look, I can see a beautiful rainbow on the page!”
“I wonder how many bands the rainbow has?”
“ I really love this rainbow. I wonder if you can see anything interesting on the page?”
[TIP!] Wait until your child has engaged and begins to participate. This will show you that they are ready to move forward and they are feeling safe. Don’t worry if this takes a few moments, it’s important not to rush or push a child into moving forward before they are ready.
Ask your child to choose a colour. I usually have the bowl of Crayon Rocks beside me and only introduce them to the space once my children have begun to engage. I do this because sometimes introducing too many new things at once can feel overwhelming for a sensitive child.
I gently place the Crayon Rocks in front of them and allow them to choose.
It's time to allocate an emotion or feeling to the chosen colour. I use open-ended language that allows a child to discover how they feel on their own.
“Blue is a great colour choice, how do you feel when you look at the colour blue?”
It’s really important that you acknowledge your child's feelings when they share this with you.
“The colour blue does remind me of feeling sad too. I can see why you picked that colour.”
On the second page of your My Rainbow Feelings Worksheet, make note of the colour chosen and the feeling your child has associated with this.
[TIP!] For younger children, I always let my child know I will also be doing some colouring and writing alongside them. If your child is a little older, I always ask permission to write down their feelings and explain to them what we are doing.
Ask your child to colour one of the rainbow bands. As they are colouring with their chosen colour, you can provide gentle prompts to talk about their feelings.
“I can see you’ve picked blue, are you feeling a little bit sad today?”
“Can you think of something that has made you feel sad at all?
As your child is sharing you may write down what they are feeling on your worksheet. If this makes your child uncomfortable, just make mental notes.
After your child has finished sharing. Repeat the process by asking them to select another colour and choose a different emotion to talk about.
[TIP!] If your child is ready to share, they will do so at their own pace. It’s important at this stage we just allow a child to speak and share, the goal right now is to acknowledge and validate their feelings and allow them the space to talk. This is not a time to offer solutions.
If your child is not sharing this is absolutely ok. I will usually let them know it's ok not to share and ask them if they would like me to share something that is making me sad and allow them to listen as I colour.
Finding a solution to their problems is our next step. Once your child has coloured in the rainbow, thank them for sharing their feelings and remember to validate.
Ask if they would like some help to find some solutions to the problems. Sometimes a child may not want a solution to a certain problem, they may just want to share. Repeat this process with each problem shared.
[TIP!] I always ask my child if there is a solution or outcome they can think of first and gently guide them to a solution that is achievable and reasonable.
Making an action plan. It’s important to show our children that action will be taken when they share a problem. I help them to break down their solution into some actions that need to be taken and gently work with them to help put this action plan in place.
[TIP!] Having an action plan can help to create security, offer predictability in an unknown situation and give a child the ability to move forward in a supported way.
Would you like to try My Rainbow Feelings in your home or classroom?
We’ve created a free downloadable worksheet here for you to get started.
If you have any questions or need help with this activity, please feel free to let me know.