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feeling cards to help kids understand their emotions

Nearly two years ago, I gave a talk where I emphasized the importance of using feeling cards with children. I shared that it helps children open up about emotions and at the end of the talk, shared my favorite feeling cards and told everyone to go buy a set. The next day, I received an email from a number of participants saying the cards were no longer available. The company was going out of business. No more feeling cards. I was devastated.

Covid hit and our whole world changed. My play therapy practice with my therapy dog, Walter, moved to virtual. Kids were struggling and parents were asking what they could do to help. I caught myself saying, “you should get these cards,” but then retracted. There were no more cards. This was a continual problem unless…yes, you guessed it. I make them myself.

A year and a half ago, I began this journey. Without any experience in making a product, I read everything I could find on how to do it. I found an illustrator. I researched manufacturing companies. I requested sample after sample until I got it just right. I tested the thickness of cards, the type of container and asked colleagues, friends, my patients and anyone who was willing, to tell me what they liked and didn’t like. I tested cardboard boxes in my office to gauge their durability. One kid sat on a box and broke it so I eliminated cardboard and began researching companies that specialized in something more durable. I landed on tin boxes. I wanted the box to be small enough that a school counselor could slide it in their pocket so I reduced the size to pocket size. I wanted the lid to stay on so I chose a sliding tin lid. At the end of one full year, I requested a final sample and it arrived. I lifted it as if it were a fragile egg and opened it slowly. I had done it! After questioning, second guessing and on many occasions, almost letting go of the project altogether, I had accomplished what I set out to do: create a set of feeling cards to help children identify emotions.

I had also done something else. I had added a strategy to the back of each card to help a child manage emotions. This was always something that was missing from the other set of feeling cards I had used. They were great at the feelings part, but didn’t address what to do about each feeling. The strategies on the back are the same strategies I’ve been using in my office for the past 20 years. The have been kid-tested and are kid-approved. The Scared card has the strategy Safe Place on the back. Sad has My Feelings Corner and Jealous has 5 on, 5 off. Even the cards with positive emotions have a strategy. Calm has Cooked Spaghetti and Brave has Putting on my Cape. There is also a How to Use the Cards card that helps parents, educators and counselors know how to make the best use of the cards.

A little over a month ago, my first pallet of feeling cards arrived at a warehouse outside of Nashville. I grabbed a box off of the top and began handing cards to the kids I worked with. Later that week, I gave a talk to a school district in Texas and they ordered a set for every one of their counselors. Another district is doing the same. And now, I am able to offer them to everyone. To order, please visit the website below. You will also find activities, resources and a lot of other good things. The cards are the first product but stay tuned for more!

I am grateful for each of you and my greatest hope is that these cards will ease the burden and light the way for the children you counsel, teach and raise.


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