Friday, January 13, 2017

National Rubber Ducky Day: Feelings Games

It's National Rubber Ducky Day

It's National Rubber Ducky Day on January 13th, but as a child therapist and early childhood mental health consultant, I may use these delightful yellow creatures on any given day of the week!

Playing with feelings is a common theme for most child therapists and counselors, but you can easily play along at home with the kids, too!

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Feelings Ducks

1. Using a Sharpie, draw feelings on the bottom of the rubber duckies. The more, the better! If you need help coming up with feelings to add, look RIGHT HERE for a bit of feelings inspiration!
2. Allow children to pick ducks, one at a time and read the feeling aloud. Then, tell about what might make someone feel that way and how they could cope with it.


1. Provide each child in the group with a ducky, on which the bottom has a different feeling written in  a Sharpie.
2. Proceed and play a typical game of duck-duck-goose, only when someone is named the goose, they first stand up and read out their feeling. Everyone in the group makes a face that demonstrates that feeling. The person standing gets to tell about what might make somebody feel that way. The group gets to offer ways to manage and cope with that feeling.
3. Proceed on until everyone has a turn!

Want to read more about the Rubber Ducky's Rise to the Top? Go HERE for details!

If you like this simple idea, you're going to LOVE this: Dr. Lynne Kenney and I will be sharing tons of interventions to help teachers, clinicians and parents help kids learn self-regulation skills in just a few weeks! Go HERE to learn more about registering for the 12 hour online workshop! You can take it from anywhere in the world!

Need more games and activities that provide a comprehensive, therapeutic-strength approach to help kids understand and cope with feelings? Go HERE!

Until next time,

Wendy Young, LMSW, BCD, is  the founder of Kidlutions and co-author of BLOOM: 50 Things to Say, Think and Do with Anxious, Angry and Over-the-Top Kids. She is the creator of numerous workbooks and resources to help from the preschool through the teen years. Follow her on PinterestInstagramTwitter and Facebook! She'd love to see your smiling face there! Affiliate links may be used in this post. Please see our full disclaimer, located at the top of our page for more information.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

When Kids Push Your Buttons, How to Keep Your Cool

If you’re a parent, you’ve probably experienced a time or two (or more) when your kids have pushed your buttons. You’re probably no stranger to how hard it can be to keep your cool in such times, either.

While you may have had some moments of losing your cool…and don’t consider yourself one of the most patient people, you can easily enhance your sense of calm if you have a plan of action.

Follow these tips and watch how your ability to stay calm with your children is enhanced:

1.     Take a break. If you’re home with your child 24/7, give yourself a break to refuel and recharge. When we are less than patient, we tend to become angry and our emotions block rational thinking.

·       After experiencing a strong emotion like anger, it takes most of us around 30 minutes to return to a “normal” emotional state, even though you might feel calm after 10 minutes.

·       Research has shown that after this happens, you’re still physiologically “agitated” and more susceptible to becoming angry again. Think of this as a “kindling” effect of sorts. Try to take a break and get away from the kids, provided they are safe while you take a break.

2.     Count to 10. If you’re unable to get away for a bit, the next best option is to switch your focus. Try counting to ten or concentrate on your breathing.

·       It’s tough to control your body temperature, pulse, or blood pressure. However, your breathing is one of the few bodily functions you can control. And when we control our breathing, we can directly impact our blood pressure (Anderson, McNeely, & Windham, 2010) and our pulse (Publications, 2016). Truth be told, research has also shown that we can even control our body temperature via certain meditative practices (President & Harvard, 2002). Our minds are pretty powerful things!

·       Breathe deeply and slowly. Count your breaths and keep your mind occupied. Breathe in to the count of five seconds, hold that breath for five seconds and exhale for five seconds. Pay attention to the motion of your chest and feel the air moving in and out of your lungs.

3.     Change your perspective. Although it’s hard to believe, your child probably isn’t being problematic on purpose. Your kids just have a different perspective of the world. If they’re too young to speak, all they can do to communicate displeasure is to cry and scream. Most times, behavioral issues are simply developmental in nature.

·       What some consider “unreasonable misbehavior” is simply a part of being a child. A child’s brain isn’t fully developed until they are in their 20’s. Try hard not to accuse a child of willful disobedience when perhaps a skill deficit is to blame.

4.     Practice patience. There are two ways to practice patience. You can mentally rehearse being more patient or you can actually practice your patience in low-stress situations.

·       Think back to a time where you were less patient than you would have liked. Imagine yourself behaving in the way you’d prefer. Picture a different outcome. Practice this exercise several times a day.

·       Try being more patient when you’re only slightly stressed. If you practice in lower-stress situations, you’ll be more successful during those times when you’re about to lose your cool. A little self-talk can be helpful here. Try saying to yourself:

·       “I’ve got this!”
·       “I’m calm and relaxed.”
·       “I know just how to handle this.”
·       “This moment won’t last forever.”

You get the idea. What’s important is that you come up with something that is meaningful to you, something that will help you “talk yourself through” a rough time. In BLOOM, we call these “mantras”. Mantras can help you cope with a variety of different situations.

5.     Extend patience to yourself, as well. It’s unreasonable to expect that you can completely avoid getting upset. Even though you’re a parent, you’re also human. Give yourself a break and remember that it isn’t realistic to be patient at all times. As I always like to say, “You don’t have to be really perfect, you just have to be perfectly real!” Who better than a fellow, imperfect human being to teach a child what

Finding balance, staying calm and keeping your cool are worth the effort they take. It will improve the climate of your home and you’ll be an excellent role model for your children. 


Anderson, D. E., McNeely, J. D., & Windham, B. G. (2010). Regular slow-breathing exercise effects on blood pressure and breathing patterns at rest. Journal of Human Hypertension24(12), 807–813. doi:10.1038/jhh.2010.18

President, T., & Harvard, F. of. (2002, April 19). Meditation dramatically changes body temperatures. Retrieved December 30, 2016, from

Publications, H. H. (2016, September 12). Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response - Harvard health. Retrieved December 30, 2016, from

Until next time,


Wendy Young, LMSW, BCD, is  the founder of Kidlutions and co-author of BLOOM: 50 Things to Say, Think and Do with Anxious, Angry and Over-the-Top Kids. She is the creator of numerous workbooks and resources to help from the preschool through the teen years. Follow her on PinterestInstagramTwitter and Facebook! She'd love to see your smiling face there!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Gingerbread People and More Freebie

Gingerbread People

Those magical, mystical gingerbread folks are a part of the season. Here's a version that's easy on the teeth...and don't require sweeping up a gazillion sprinkles and doo-dads off the floor!

It's FREE!

Best of all, it's free! This seven page freebie features gingerbread people and several coloring pages for the season. The blank gingerbread people provide a blank canvas to allow kids' imaginations to run wild. 

You'll find it all HERE! Free for the asking! No sign-ups and no obligations for anything!

Don't Miss a Thing

If you'd like to join our newsletter and NEVER miss a freebie or big sale, you can join HERE and get our Anger Toolbox for Kids MP3 download for free, as well!

And...if you're a parent, teacher or clinician

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Why Labeling Feelings is So Important: Beyond Mad, Sad & Glad

Helping kids put their feelings into words (affect labeling) can help them better navigate strong, negative emotional experiences. We tend to "keep it simple" when talking about feelings with young children and may often stick to the basics, such as mad, glad and sad. That is all well and good. Once our children have mastered that, we can move on to a bigger variety of emotionally descriptive words. We can increase our child's understanding of a bigger expanse of feelings by broadening the terms we use.

Stumped about what feeling words to use beyond the three aforementioned? Try some of these on for size...

Brave Cheerful Worried Joyful Frightened Calm Excited Confused Frustrated Curious Friendly Shy Ignored Lonely Interested Proud Embarrassed Jealous Angry Bored Surprised Silly Uncomfortable Stubborn Safe Relieved Peaceful Overwhelmed Loving Cranky

Why it Matters:

We've long thought that naming our feelings could help us manage negative emotional states, but we weren't quite sure how exactly this worked. Brain imaging in the past demonstrated a possible neural pathway for this process, but a definitive conclusion could not be made. By using a functional magnetic resonance imaging study, scientists were able to look a bit deeper. They found that affect labeling (naming emotions)  reduced the response of the amygdala and other limbic regions {the emotional seat of the brain, if you will} to negative emotional images. 

Here's what the science says:

"... affect labeling produced increased activity in a single brain region, (the) right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (RVLPFC). Finally, RVLPFC and amygdala activity during affect labeling were inversely correlated, a relationship that was mediated by activity in medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC). These results suggest that affect labeling may diminish emotional reactivity along a pathway from RVLPFC to MPFC to the amygdala." (Lieberman et al., 2007, p. 241).

Here's What it Means to Us: The Brain's Braking System

The activity that takes place in the RVLPFC when one labels an emotion acts as a "braking" system for the brain. It slows down the reaction of the limbic system (emotional seat) of the brain. We can literally help kids start "putting on the brakes" to emotional reactions by helping them learn to label feelings. Identifying feelings one of the first parts of social-emotional literacy.

What's Next?

Emotional labeling is just the first step. Once the feeling is identified, we need to help kids acquire coping skills to manage the feeling. If you're looking for help to in teaching said skills, we've a whole host of instant download products that can assist you in this endeavor. Check it all out HERE.

Lieberman, M. D., Eisenberger, N. I., Crockett, M. J., Tom, S. M., Pfeifer, J. H., & Way, B. M. (2007). Putting Feelings Into Words: Affect Labeling Disrupts Amygdala Activity in Response to Affective Stimuli. Psychological Science, 18(5), 421-428. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01916.x

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Friday, December 9, 2016

1-Minute Anger Management Activity for Kids and Teens

Actual list generated in one minute by an elementary student.

1-Minute Anger Management Activity for Kids/Teens

The other day, I was working on anger management with a young charge and challenged the child to come up with as many coping skills as he possibly could while I timed him for 1-minute.

What resulted was amazing. The child came up with more ideas than I imagined he would!

High-fives, knuckles and excitement ensued.  Give it a try and tell me what you think!

What you need:

{Affiliate links are used below}

Timer (I used my phone)

Paper/Pencil or White Board

A Brainstorming Attitude

How I Introduced the Idea

I introduced the idea as a challenge, and told the child to not judge any ideas that came to just go with it and write the ideas down as quickly as possible.

Group Adaptation

Want to do this for a group? Allow each child to write down their ideas on their own paper. Then, create a master list, from all of the available options.

Processing the Activity

After the list was created, we went through and discussed which activities would really be helpful and which would actually be used by the child. We also discussed which activities were healthier than others! =)

What would you add to this activity? This is just a start! It can be expanded in so many ways! Share how you would do it below!


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You’ll find three complete activities with directions, as well as full color and black and white options (you choose). You’ll come to this resource again and again! This activity may be adapted for use with any variety of feelings that may be difficult for children to cope:

Therefore, it’s adaptable for any sort of issue with which children may be grappling:


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Here’s the table of contents:

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Holiday Survival Guide for Busy Parents

Holiday Survival Guide for Busy Parents

The holidays are upon us and with so much shopping, wrapping, planning, baking, traveling, cleaning and whatever else it is you do to get ready for can be just plain exhausting. There are lots of issues that can crop up around the holidays with behavior and kids can even feel your stress.

Our recommendations call for connection to each other, managing stress, making memories, having fun and teaching appropriate social skills {we share some below from the guy in the big red suit}! Below is an assortment of articles that can help with some of those holiday take you into the next year a little more well-rested and ready to face the new year. It's a virtual platter of holiday cheer for your eyes. Feast your eyes on these:

Simply click on the red-highlighted links to read more about each topic below:

Help kids manage holiday stress - Kids can get stressed just like adults. They even feel your stress. Here are some tips to help your kids (and yourself) cope with holiday stress.

Getting rid of the 'gimmies' - Materialism, conspicuous consumption and greed. What do kids really need to be happy. The research tells us, and here we break it down into an easily digestible read.

The Santa Rules for Social SkillsBefore the BIG guy got too busy with the season...I had a chance to sit down with him and gather up his tips on social skills. They are simple. They aren't all gussied up with technical jargon. Just pared down, doable ideas that are within the reach of all of us! And when we can do it, we can teach it to our kids!

Snow day activities for kids! - The kids are jumping for joy. It's a snow day! Now, what to do with them all day? Here are some great ideas!

Sing Your Stress Away - Hum, sing or harmonize. Singing helps reduce stress. Have a family sing-a-long or go caroling. Need inspiration? Follow the link for a Christmas Carol Sing-a-Long Songbook. You can read about why singing is good for your child's brain HERE.

Making a Naughty and Nice List? Here's why you might want to reconsider.

'Presence' for the holidays - Your child called. He said he wants more "presence" from you for the holidays. S~L~O~W down, play a game, read a book or just BREATHE with your child. Give a gift your child will ALWAYS remember.

Bake with Your Kids - Make it more relaxing with these 9 tips!

Snowballs (cookies) for everyone! - No matter what climate your child lives in, she can still have snowballs! Melt in your mouth, not in your hand variety!

Activities Galore to keep the Kiddos Busy - You'll find more than 275 Christmas Activities and Ideas through this post.

Oh, and let us know what you think. Do you have any other ideas to simplify and survive the holidays? We'd love to hear about it! Just comment below.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Eight Great Ways to Be Thankful for Kids of All Ages

Image shared with the permission of the artist/creator, Michael Kline. Click image.
When the image pops up in the new screen, click it again and you'll get the PDF version!

Eight Great Ways to Be Thankful for Kids of All Ages

I love stumbling upon cool things and helping kids become more thankful has been our topic du jour as of late around here. This awesome graphic, ahem...infotoon... is perfect, in my eyes, so I knew I had to share it with all of you! I saw it on twitter this morning.

Share and Share Alike!

I reached out to the author, Michael Kline, who graciously allowed me to share! This work originally appeared in Kids Discover Magazine. My kids used to read the magazine when they were younger. (One is graduating with honors with a degree in Biochemistry this spring...wonder if there is any relation?) Good stuff, indeed! And so is this graphic!

Put it Into Action!

Cozy up with your kiddos and peruse these eight ideas...then challenge your kids and yourself to pick one area to focus on for the next several weeks! Make gratitude last all year long. Here's what the researchers have to say about why it's so important!

While these ideas are created for kids, I think we can all agree, they're great things to do for kids of ANY age (just as the author suggests)!

Which is Your Favorite?

I love them all, but #8 is one that is vitally important for all of us! I do it all day long in my office and when I'm consulting. Don't let me lead you astray...I love to talk, too....but...listening is where the magic happens! 

Just this past week, I suggested #3 
to a family with which I work 
and guess changed 

Try them all! And see what kinds of changes take place around YOU!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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