Build Big Feelings
There’s a lot going on in the world, our kids are feeling it too. But with only 6% of the vocabulary of adults, smaller children can’t always find the words to express big emotions*. Help them share their feelings by trying this simple activity together.
1. Find a large, empty jar and a quiet moment.
Before you begin, make sure you’re in the right frame of mind – calm, open and receptive. Grab some colorful LEGO® bricks. Parts like eyes and teeth are really useful, but it’s fine to use whatever you already have at home.
2. Build how you feel.
Start by suggesting you both build how you’re feeling using LEGO bricks. Small and quick builds are fine – you decide how long to build for. Let your child take the lead in what they choose to make, there’s no right or wrong. But if they’re struggling to begin, explain what you’re starting to build and why. For example, “I’m making this because I feel_ as today____ happened to me.”
3. Talk about your creations.
Start to unpack your child’s feelings by asking them about their build. What is it? Why have they made it that way? Once you’ve used their LEGO build to help identify their feelings, you can explore what in particular might have made them feel that way. The aim is not to ‘get rid’ of negative emotions, but to help your child express them in healthy ways.
4. Listen calmly. Acknowledge. Reassure.
Give your child your full attention, let them guide the conversation and use their words. Listen more than you talk. Be accepting and supportive of whatever your child expresses and try not to dismiss their feelings or respond negatively. Make sure you start and finish by reassuring them that you love them. For more tips on how to handle the conversation, check out the links at the bottom of this page.
5. Use the jar to build and talk regularly.
When you’re done, ask your child to put their build into the ‘Feelings Jar’. Put the jar somewhere visible at home to remind you to keep building and talking regularly. As you add more builds to the jar, it can become a quick way to check in with your child’s emotions using simple questions like, “Are you feeling a bit like any of the LEGO things you’ve made before?”
Talking about conflict and warTips from our friends at UNICEF about handling your child’s worries and questions in the best way possible.Find out more
Children’s mental healthStart the mental health conversation with your kids, with information and guidance from UNICEF experts.Find out more
LEGO® Build Me EmotionsDiscover our special LEGO® DUPLO® bricks to help younger children understand how to recognize and name different emotions.Find out more