We know big feelings are having a big moment this year and for many people, mental health and emotional well-being have become a top priority. That’s why Owl & Oak created “The Moodies” - an all-in-one cuddly toy + book that children can turn to when their emotions start to feel bigger than they are. Designed in collaboration with early development specialists, The Moodies enable children to navigate the complexities of their growing emotions without the need for words.
A Framework for Social and Emotional Learning
At Owl & Oak, the heartbeat of our work centers around social and emotional learning. We use The Moodies along with the CASEL Wheel framework (displayed below) to teach children and parents how to foster knowledge, skills, and attitudes across five focus areas of social and emotional competence including Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Responsible Decision-Making, Relationship Skills and Social Awareness.
In this blog post, we examine the social and emotional concept of Relationship Skills. We provide parents with a “mini-lesson” along with a tangible “how-to” guide for using our Moodie Tom to teach little ones how to seek and offer help.
The CASEL framework defines Relationship Skills as “the abilities to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse individuals and groups.” The category of Relationship Skills is further divided into nine main capacities (displayed above). While we’d love to unpack all nine facets of the Relationship Skills category, we know as parents you have things (like, a lot of things) to do. For brevity’s sake, we’re focusing this mini lesson on teaching little ones how to seek and offer help.
The Importance of Help-Seeking
- Help-seeking allows children to identify adults & peers who are safe and can provide them with appropriate forms of assistance.
- Help-seeking combats several risk factors known to cause stress and sadness in kids.
Parenting Prompts for Seeking and Offering Help
The prompts in the infographic below help parents teach little ones how to identify potential helpers. They also show parents how to model help-seeking and how to encourage empathy in children.
Developing Relationship Skills with The Moodies
We love using our Moodie Tom to help teach little ones how to seek and offer help. Each Moodie comes with their own personal story attached. In Tom’s story, we learn that he lives in New York City with his family of older siblings who are all big enough to leave the nest. They get to enjoy the excitement of the big city but Tom isn’t ready to explore all the sites and sounds just yet. Tom often stays behind by himself, which makes him feel really lonely.
When reading this story with a little one, we use the following prompts to talk about who Tom could turn to if he needs help. This might sound like:
“Who can help Tom at home?”“Who can help Tom at school?”“Who can help Tom in his neighborhood?”
We also help encourage empathy by asking little ones how they might help Tom so he doesn’t feel so alone. This might sound like:
“If Tom visited our home, how could we make him feel less lonely?”
“If Tom went to your school, how could you make him feel less lonely?”
“If Tom lived in our neighborhood, how could we make him feel less lonely?”
Tom is just one of our five Moodies, each one designed to help your little one learn more about their very big emotions. The Moodies encourage open discussion between children and their families to build a bond of communication, teach empathy and emphasize that all feelings deserve a space to be shared.
Each Moodie comes with a backpack so your child knows that their feelings are welcome wherever they go, and they'll always have a friend for support when they need a cuddle.
Source: casel.org + maginationpressfamily.org