Supporting Young Children Visited by Big Emotions
This chapter provides some of the playful practices developed to support Brooke, Tyron, Chao-xing—and other children—with emotion regulation when visited by big emotions. It presents mindfulness activities developed for young children that aim to integrate the neurobiology of emotion regulation. Mindfulness, which is an act of the mind, leads to neuroplastic changes in the structure and function of brain regions involved in the regulation of attention, self-awareness and emotion. Mindfulness also encourages body awareness by increasing activity in the insula and structural properties of brain regions connected to body awareness. Research over the past decade has found mindfulness practice to benefit children and it has expanded into educational and mental health settings. Children can make a flashlight keychain using shrink film to carry with them as a reminder to observe and name their internal experiences. The inside flashlight practice also supported Brooke in developing somatic awareness of her emotional experiences, particularly frustration.