Awareness of Emotions

family activity: mind jars

We all feel a range of emotions: happy, joyful, excited, sad, disappointed, lonely, frustrated, angry, and hurt. None of these emotions is “wrong.” They exist. We cannot escape them. The more we push away difficult emotions, the more they return with vigor. In the Kindness Curriculum, kids are taught that all emotions are okay. Equally, they’re taught how to work with difficult emotions. For example, when you’re mad, it’s not acceptable to hit; a different choice is to use your mind jar.

Mind Jar Ingredients

  • Clear plastic bottle (or glass jar, for adults), 5-10 ounces

  • Glitter: regular glitter, white glitter (for extra shimmer), and/or extra-fine colored glitter

  • Clear glue (slows the glitter)

  • Liquid dish soap (helps the glitter settle)

  • Super glue

Mind Jar instructions

  • Fill jar 1/4 full with clear glue.

  • Add warm water to fill the jar 1/2 way. (This makes adding the glitter easier.)

  • Add 1 heaping tsp. course/regular glitter, 1/2 tsp. white glitter, 1 tsp. extra fine glitter (use more glitter if using a bottle larger than 5 ounces). It’s fine to change the amounts based on the glitter you choose.

  • Add 1-2 drops of liquid dish soap.

  • Add warm water to the top.

  • Put the cap on the bottle/jar and shake it up.  Add more glitter as needed.

  • Use super glue around rim to seal the cap.

Experiment with this recipe. It’s not an exact science. Add more glue if you want the glitter to settle slowly; add less glue if you want the glitter to settle quickly. Try different colors and kinds of glitter. Making the mind jar is fun and sometimes messy. Let yourself and your kids play and experiment. Then put the mind jar (with the belly buddies) in a special “quiet place” within your home. When anyone—adult or child—is angry, sad, or frustrated, they can shake the mind jar and watch it settle.

adult practice: settling the mind + self-compassion

As caretakers, there’s a lot on your mind: work, bills, school activities, daily chores, children’s well-being, and the ever-present to-do list. Often, we caretakers put ourselves on the bottom of the to-do list. We sacrifice for our kids. But it’s important to remember: the well-being of a family starts with the well-being of the adults. It’s okay to tend and care for yourself. This isn’t selfish, it’s wise. If we tend to our own emotions, we’re better able to tend to our kids’ needs. This inward attention doesn’t require a large amount of time. It can be done in small yet meaningful ways.

Sit comfortably in a chair or on a floor cushion. Let your posture be upright yet relaxed. We’re looking for attention with ease; not too tight and not too loose. You can close your eyes—to remove visual distractions—or you can leave your eyes open, with a soft gaze downward. Choose one of these short practices:

Self-compassion for parents and caregivers is not something taught or encouraged in our society yet the research shows it has powerful benefits. Kristin Neff is the leading researcher on self-compassion. You can read more about her work—and its applications for your life—by clicking here.

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be kind to yourself.