3 Activities to Get Started with Kimochis
Activity 1 – Introduce Your Child to Kimochis
- Have your child say “key-MO-chee” and tell them they just spoke Japanese! Share that kimochi means “feeling” in Japanese.
- Let your child discover your new Kimochis character and feelings.
- If you haven’t already, read aloud your character’s description from the Feel Guide that came with your character. Look at and read the other character stories too!
- Spread out the feeling pillows. For children who can’t read, touch or hold each feeling pillow as you say its name. Your child may naturally start picking up and reading the pillows or asking, “What does this say?”
- Show your child how they can tuck feeling pillows into the character’s pouch as a way to let you know what they are feeling.
- Choose a bowl or basket to hold all of your feeling pillows. Together with your family, determine the best place to keep this bowl or basket for easy access.
- Explain that this Bowl of Feelings will always be available so that anyone can come get a Feeling and bring it to anyone in the family to start a conversation.
- If you have it, show your child the Kimochis Nesting Heart and explain, “Even though we are apart, you are always in my heart.” Demonstrate how the two hearts can be separated and come back together. Explain that when daddy or mommy go away, the big heart will stay at home and the small heart will go with daddy or mommy. Pick a special place in your home for the large heart! Start using your nesting heart for daily goodbyes and hellos so your child begins to feel the comfort of rejoining the hearts.
- Explain that the Kimochis are tools that can help your family feel close to one another and navigate the feelings that arise in challenging moments. Let your child know that you’re going to have special Kimochis Family Time to play some of the Kimochis communication games together!
Activity 2 – Introduce How Feelings Work
- Before starting this activity, get two bags. Label one “Feelings My Body Likes to Have” and label the other, “Feelings My Body Does Not Like to Have.”
- Share with your child that the Kimochis will be helping everyone in the family learn to be aware of what they are feeling and learn communication tools to bring out pleasing or happier feelings more often. Your family will also learn how to talk to one another when you have upset or “hard to have” feelings.
- Toss the feeling pillows on the floor or kitchen table. Kids love to do the tossing, so simply hand them the bowl and invite them to toss away!
- Ask your family to work as a team to turn the feeling pillows word-side-up. (If you have a young child or a child with limited reading skills, point to each word while you say it. Kids will begin to memorize the faces and colors.)
- Next, tell your family, “This is how feelings work: Everybody has all of the feelings you see from time to time. Our bodies like having some of the feelings, and our bodies do not like having some of the feelings, but we will all have them anyway.” Then invite your family to sort the feeling pillows into the two bags.
- After all the feeling pillows have been sorted, hold up both bags as you say, “Inside this bag, we put feelings our bodies like having, while inside this bag, we put feelings most people’s bodies do not like having.”
- Explain that the feelings inside the second bag are called “upset” or “hard to have” feelings.
- Let your family know that when they are having either hard feelings or positive feelings, they can “go to the bowl” to start a conversation.
- Invite various family members (one at a time) to pull out a Feeling from the bag labeled “Feelings My Body Likes to Have.”
- Take turns sharing how to bring that particular feeling into your family life. For example, “We could have more silly feelings if we turned on music and danced after dinner or while cleaning dishes.”
- Select a family favorite Feeling and tuck it into your character’s pouch. This will be the “Feeling of the Week” to notice, enjoy, and work to create in your family life.
- At your next family meal, have your child pull the positive Feeling from the character’s pouch and invite each family member to take a turn holding the Feeling and sharing how they experienced it that week. For example, “I felt happy this week because we took family walks after dinner.”
Activity 3 – The Feeling-Behavior Link and the Kimochis Brave Tool
- At the start of this Kimochis Family Time, do a quick Kimochis Check-in. Invite each family member to take a turn pulling a Feeling from the bowl that represents a feeling they had this week. Invite them to share a story about the feeling pillow they’re holding, but do not force anyone to talk if they don’t want to.
- Explain that feelings fuel behavior. Pick a feeling pillow that represents an emotion most people do not like having. Ask, “When a person feels [the feeling you are holding], do they usually say and do things that make things better or make things worse?” Most will say worse.
- Acknowledge their understanding and explain that when we have a “hard to have” or upset feeling, our bodies often react with a behavior that can be hurtful to others or ourselves, like yelling, pushing, or saying hurtful words. Reassure by saying, “No one in our family wants to communicate in these hurtful ways.” Explain that the Kimochis® can help all family members express themselves in kind and respectful ways when we are feeling upset.
- Hold the Brave feeling pillow and share that it takes courage or bravery to manage our “hard to have” feelings in positive ways. It takes courage to tell people your true feelings. (The Brave feeling pillow comes with Bug or Pack 4…you can also use one of the blank make-your-own feelings to create your own Brave.)
- Tell your child that bravery is NOT a superhero feeling. Explain that you cannot be brave unless you have other challenging feelings as well.
- Hold up a few upset feeling pillows, such as Hurt, Sad, and Mad.
- Now put the Brave feeling pillow in front of those Feelings and say, “You have to be brave to do the right thing when you feel hurt, sad, or mad.”
- Explain that courage or bravery does not take away the upset feelings, but it does help people do the right thing to make things better. To demonstrate, hold up the Scared feeling pillow and put Brave in front. Say, “If you feel scared that you forgot to do your homework, put your bravery in front of your fear and just tell your teacher the truth even though you feel scared. This is called ‘honesty.’ ”
- Once your child understands the concept of courage as a tool, you can encourage your family members anytime by saying, “Put brave in front” or “I need to put my brave in front.”
- Tuck the Brave Feeling in your child’s pocket, lunch box, or backpack on a day they might have to face a challenge. This will show them that you believe they can handle whatever comes their way. Have your child share their courageous moment at dinnertime. Share your own stories of times you have had to be brave.