What's Your Feeleez?

Have you ever been tied up in knots with how to express your feelings? So stressed that everything annoys you? Imagine how our children feel when they don't even have the life experience yet or words to identify with the intensity of their feelings. Tough, indeed. That is why we are so excited to share with you, Feeleez - a beautifully designed empathy game that enables even those toughest feelings to be validated and expressed. And, let me tell you, it has done wonders for our family in helping everyone communicate their feelings. Yes, even this mama bear has used Feeleez. But, how you ask? Well, here is a recent use of Feeleez in our home...

My oldest son, at 9 years old, has sensory issues, has always had sleep issues, and is just one of those highly gifted and extremely intense children with everything and everyone. He is such a blessing and so full of heart, but so hard on himself, and has such a difficult time expressing himself. He gets mad at himself when he can't fall asleep (even with us right there with him), he gets worked up and can't calm down when he inadvertently harms one of his siblings and doesn't mean it. Even when they are over it, he isn't. One night recently, he was upset with how the evening went before bedtime. He had wanted an extra ride on Daddy's back, and after already extending the play for quite a long time, when Daddy finally said one last ride up the stairs, he wanted more than that and showed it with full blown intensity. He was angry, he threw something down the stairs, and then couldn't (wouldn't) fall asleep for anything. Once we got the other two (our baby girl, and 6 year old son) to sleep, I was able to sit down with him, he was still worked up and still upset. We walked to the feeleez poster (which by the way hangs on the inside of our front door :-), and I asked him to point to how he was feeling. We hadn't done this in awhile. I had been using feeleez mostly with my younger son, who at age 6 is going through a developmental growth spurt of some kind full of a fight for independence. But, I took this opportunity to sit with my oldest son and remembered that he still needs this, too, more than ever. He quickly found an angry face, the red one I think, and he mirrored that image pretty well. Then, I asked him where he wanted to be? Hmmm. He had to think about this one, and his expression changed almost immediately. He pointed to the girl with "flowy" arms and said she looked calm, he wanted to be there. Then, I pulled out the box of feeleez cards and found one for me, sad and confused, wanting to help him, but not sure how. I also put aside the girl with the "flowy" arms and said I wanted to be there, too, because she looked peaceful and ready to go to sleep, because I was so tired. I told him that I understood he was angry, and that he wanted that extra ride and that he wanted to rewind the evening and take back getting so angry (all comments he had made in the fight to go to bed). I told him that sometimes I want to rewind time, too, to do something differently, to have it go a different way. But, that we can't and it's ok, we just move forward. He looked so relieved, and in that moment, my little boy (who we forget sometimes that he is still so little in so many ways)... he half-smiled. Then, we did something new with our Feeleez. We talked about how we could get from the angry face to the "flowy" girl. He picked out a few more cards and placed them in between, and I did the same. We talked about the process of getting from one feeling to another, moving from one card to the next, until we reached the goal feeling. This took quite a long time, and it was very late before he actually went to bed, but it was worth it on so many levels. He went to sleep peacefully after that, and actually had a very good day the next day, going to the poster on his own when he needed to, or just sitting down with the cards on the floor. We connected with his intense feelings and made them accessible, and I did the same.

We have used feeleez a lot since that night, for arguments between brothers, for getting through rough moments when the feelings are too overwhelming. Both my boys seem to have taken to picking out where they are, and then picking a card for where they want to be. It gives them control over what is going on inside themselves, when otherwise it sometimes feels so out of control. Even our two year old daughter will now go up and point to the poster, or pick out a card. Created by the amazing mamas and papas at the Natural Parenting Center, Feeleez is more than just a game or a poster, it is a communication tool that makes even the most intense personalities find calm.

Check out Feeleez in our store at /feeleez

Check out the Feeleez blog at talkfeeleez.wordpress.com/

Check out the Natural Parenting Center at http://naturalparentingcenter.com/

Angela Malson