Day 2 Identification of feelings in a healthy way

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As implied, day 2 focused on the myriad of emotions associated with the death of a loved one. Adults often do not acknowledge the breadth of emotions experienced by bereaved children, for they either do not realize that children can experience them or they do not wish children to be experiencing difficult emotions. However, children do have these emotions, and in order to perpetuate healthy grief and development they need to recognize these feelings and develop skills of coping with them throughout their development.

Objectives

1. Identifying and understanding feelings.

2. Recognizing stress as a consequence of emotions.

3. Recognizing anger.

4. Remembering the emotion of fun.

Interventions

1. The second day started with children identifying their feelings and the creation of a feelings chart as described by Figure 5.1. Emphasis is placed on the highs and lows associated with various feelings and the goal of preserving the emotions but diminishing their intensity. Art therapy involved the creation of life-sized paper dolls of the children labeled with the various parts of their body that felt emotions. They then discussed these dolls in front of the group. Small group activities echoed this with a discussion of mixed-up emotions. Finally, music therapy and bibliotherapy sessions (see Appendix) concentrated on the normalcy of emotions and how to have them in your life without them controlling your life.

2. During the discussions of emotions, stress was discussed as a consequence of the highs and lows associated with emotions. During a small group activity, healthy demonstrations and resolutions of stress were discussed such as writing, singing, and exercising. One active demonstration involved the use of clay as a vehicle of expression.

3. Children are often told to not be angry. However, it is a natural and common emotion. It is also an intense emotion that can lead to stress when ignored or mishandled. Campers began exploring concepts of anger and its management through a purchased board game named 'The Angry Monster Machine' (Childswork/ Childsplay, 1992). By using the game, the difficult emotion of being angry at the deceased was gently introduced.

4. Happiness should remain amongst a grieving child's emotional range. Thus, the camp continued to focus on joy by providing structured play sessions. Additionally, the day's challenge activity was a scavenger hunt that allowed children to forget their work and discover happiness as they sought the hidden treasure.

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