How to recognise our mood and manage our worries: Two activities for young people and adults age 6 and up, for the classroom, youth centre, community festival
The Young Advisors to the Lewisham Young Mayor have been actively championing mental health awareness as part of our HeadStart Lewisham activity and People’s Day 2016 was no different. We wanted to provide a free fun craft activity that got young people and the adults in their lives thinking about feelings and in particular how our mood can affect us and how we manage our worries.
Making mood jars and worry boxes are great ways to engage children, young people and adults alike in thinking and talking about feelings and emotions and how they manage them and what they could do differently.
When working with whole groups of children, young people and communities, keeping the messages around mental health positive and proactive is a helpful way of raising awareness and destigmatising notions of mental ill health and reminds us we all have a mental health status. These two tactics are set out below:
The Mood Jars
Or sometimes known as calming jars allow people and children alike to shake up the jar and watch the glitter swirl and whirl and in doing so allow themselves some space from their own emotions and an opportunity to reflect on their own thoughts and feelings.
How to make:
1. You need a bottle or jar, some glitter glue, fine and chunky glitter and an optional extra some food colouring.
2. Put your glitter and sparkles in the jar, fill with water add some glitter glue (the glue helps swirl up the water) and if you have it add a drop of food colouring. Seal the jar or bottle and shake.
3. Now you can decorate the outside of your jar or bottle with ribbon, stickers or more glitter.
The Worry Boxes
Or worry monsters are a safe place for us to write out our worries if we feel like we can’t talk to someone about it or we don’t want to. They can be used in the classroom, in youth clubs and groups or at home. It is a way for young people to acknowledge and let go of the worry and can also be used with adult support by removing the worries one at a time in a safe space and having an open discussion with the young person. How you use it would depend on the age and circumstances of the child and your relationship with the young person. This activity worked great at people’s day as children could get creative in making and decorating their box and we could chat with them about what they worry about now and who they talk to. Parents got involved to.
How to make:
1. You will need a tissue box, or laundry tablet box, or shoe box works well we used these boxes from ebay, tissue paper, glue, pens, feathers, glitter, scissors (to cut out a mouth or hole).
2. Seal your box and cut out a hole or mouth for the worries to go into.
3. Decorate your box however you want.
4. Tear up some paper strips, write your worries and pop them in the box.
If you decide to facilitate either of these activities with children and young people you work with, notice what crops up through the making stages in the conversation. If something comes up for a young person that makes you concerned about their emotional health and wellbeing or is a child protection issue please refer to your organisations policies and procedures or refer to the what to do in a crisis.
We learned that both the mood jars and worry boxes are great ways to spark children’s creativity by getting them instantly involved in an activity that they can be totally creative with. Whilst they are busy making, you can ask about how the jar or box can be used by them, what happens now when they are upset, angry, worried, happy or excited.
The young person then gets a resource that they have created that they can take away and use at home.
And you get some further insight into young people and their thoughts about feelings and emotions.
Let us know in the comments box when you use these activities with the young people in your life and what difference it makes.