“I am grateful for having a kind and caring mother.”
“I am grateful for my animal friend – dog.”
“I am grateful for spaghetti, I love spaghetti.”
“I am grateful for having enough money to go to school.”
Whether big or small, the great experiences, people in our lives and our potential to succeed are sometimes clouded by negative thoughts or self-doubt. But today, the children embraced the happy things they are grateful for and developed strategies to change their unhelpful thoughts into helpful thoughts and turn them into something positive and worthwhile.
One of the first things we identified were body clues – how a person might physically feel before expressing their feeling through an action. For example, someone who is angry can get heated, tense up or sweat before they act out on their anger. To recognise these body clues, our facilitator played a quick animated YouTube video showing how the angry octopus released a purplish black liquid in the sea every time he felt angry. Once everyone reflected on the video, the children were then introduced to a game called ‘Robots, Towers and Jellyfish’. The game focused on the different types of body clues including tension (Robots) and relaxation (Jellyfish), body clues we may feel when we are mad or happy. The game was a lot of fun – they danced and laughed and giggled away!
After learning about body clues, the children looked at the concept of changing their thoughts and feelings in order to act with a thumbs up action. They quickly understood the differences in the three elements by playing a game called ‘Thoughts, Feelings and Actions.’ In groups of two to three, the children took turns saying either a thought – “I love to be active outside”, a feeling – ‘Happy’, and an action – ‘Running.’ By understanding the three elements they learned how to turn any unhelpful thoughts into helpful thoughts and thumbs up actions to deal with stressful situations.
The children were also shown how important it is to breathe deeply and slowly when they might feel stressed, angry, worried, sad or even excited. To learn the slow breathing/ relaxing techniques, the facilitator taught the children to practice milkshake breathing through a straw to slow down breathing out. The facilitator then taught the children to use their five senses – touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste and what they could imagine themselves doing in their favourite place.
You could barely hear the rain on the roof as the children relaxed, imagine their favourite peaceful place and focused on their slow breathing techniques.
To finish off the day, the children took a look at the types of Red Thoughts and Green Thoughts. Red thoughts are like a red stop light in that they are barriers that stop us from doing good things whereas green thoughts are positive thought that make us happy and optimistic. To learn about the two types of thoughts, our facilitator introduced the children to a fun role playing game that directly identifies the green and red thoughts during everyday situations. In this activity, two children volunteered to play as the big brother snatching the remote control off of his little brother watching television. The rest of the children then analysed the types of red thoughts and green thoughts the little brother may have and the best possible solution to the problem. In the end, one of the children pointed out a green thought was the best solution suggesting that the little brother should say, “I don’t like the way you snatched the remote off me, but let’s find a way that we can watch something we both like.”
Overall, day two you could see how the children are gradually learning relaxation and positive thinking strategies and also making friends in the group!