It is not an easy task for a small child to understand their emotions. That is why we love this book ‘The colour monster’ by Anna Llenas. The story of this cute little creature’s day aims to help our own little monsters raise their emotional awareness and make facing their feelings just that little bit less of a monstrous task!
Why get emotional about it?
Understanding our own emotions and the emotions of others is called Theory of Mind (ToM). With research highlighting links between ToM and language skills, it has become a hot topic within speech and language therapy. ToM starts to develop quite early on and can be encouraged by talking to our children about their emotions and the emotions of others. From around 4 years of age children might start to develop skills in thinking about how another person feels. Using books at this stage can be lots of fun and help them on their way to understanding emotions.
The colour monster
We meet the colour monster at the start of a day that is threatening to be rather confusing for him. This baffled little monster is in a bit of a frenzy over his feelings.
His emotions are cleverly depicted by colours. This little stumped soul is bemused and wearing all his emotions (colours) at the same time. The colours are intertwined and swirled together in a jumbled-up mess. Picture your child’s face and hands after a painting session. It is quite clear that this little guy needs a bit of help and along comes a trusted friend to lead the way.
She takes each colour, one by one and talks it through with the troubled guy.
Whilst giving the feelings a name, she explains what the feeling might make you want to do e.g. “anger can make you want to stomp”, thus helping children to recognize and identity with the different feelings. This could act as a great prompt to get your child to talk about what anger or another emotion makes them want to do.
This clued up companion goes on to say what you can do when you feel a certain way. When addressing fear, she says “If you are scared, tell me why and we will through the forest together”. Thinking about why we feel a certain way and what we can do about it can be a little tricky. With the monster sharing his emotions first and leading the way, we can then go on to attempt the same dialogue with our children.
What started out as a daunting day, turns in to a vibrant and educational journey for the colour monster. Together with the little girl they have organized his emotions and they are no longer tangled up. His world is much clearer.
For little ones and adults who enjoyed the movie Inside Out, this book is a must!!
Carrying over the colour of your emotions!
The colour monster book provides a lovely fun read with lots of talking points. You can try some of the below:
- Guess how the colour monster feels. As you look at each page see if you and your child can remember how the colour monster is feeling by looking at the colour.
- As you go through the story ask your child when they have felt sad/happy/ etc.
- What does it make them want to do?
- Are they the same or different from the colour monster?
- What about other people? Together can you think of how other people in the family feel and how they show it? What colour are their emotions?
- Together can you think of other emotions that the colour monster might have but has not shared in this story? What colour might they be?
Other fun activities
-Draw and colour pictures of how you are feeling today, what colour are you? - Can you remember what emotions go with what colours? Use different colored tokens, or paper and match the right colours to the word for the emotion. - create a mood map of the monster’s day by putting different coloured pieces of paper/tokens, or colouring in squares on a piece of paper in order e.g. morning, afternoon, evening. - Share mood maps of your day. What colour did you feel in the morning, afternoon, evening.
Written by Carolyn Fox, Children's speech and language therapist