Children can find talking about emotions difficult, even when supported. They might feel embarrassed, ashamed or uncomfortable, especially if the emotions in question are considered negative.
However talking about and noticing feelings with children is a good habit to establish as talking about everyday feelings in regular conversation makes it easier to discuss the more difficult feelings as they arise. Often it’s easier to begin by talking about how someone else might be feeling – a sibling, a television character, or even this little interactive softie we named ‘Lester’.
Lester is super simple to make but a fun feature of his design makes him a fabulous tool for exploring and discussing big feelings and emotions with kids.
Created from two pieces of felt sewn together and stuffed, Lester’s eyes are attached but his mouth has been left unglued so that it can be moved around to show the range of different emotions Lester might be feeling. Due to the fuzzy texture of the felt, if you press a small piece of felt firmly onto another, it will just stick.
Lester provides a simple and fun way to open conversations with kids about emotions. As you play around with the softie’s mouth, you can talk about what Lester might be feeling today, why he might be feeling that way, and what he might do to make himself feel better. Start with simple feelings; happy, sad, excited, tired, bored, angry, anxious/nervous/worried, confused or lonely.
Modelling behaviour is also a great way to encourage children to open up themselves, “Lester is feeling sad today. I remember I felt really sad when I lost my favourite necklace. Do you remember a time when you felt sad?” This will help a child to understand that everyone has emotions, good and bad, and that this is perfectly normal and not something to be ashamed of. Being able to recognise, express, understand and manage emotions are important skills for children to learn. Opening up the conversation and encouraging them to notice a wide range of feelings in themselves will also help them when it comes to understanding the feelings of others.
You can also attach a magnet to the back of your softie so it can be stuck to the fridge. I have found the kitchen to be a safe and non-threatening environment for difficult discussions with kids.
How to Sew a Feelings Softie Craft
You will need:
- 15cm X 15cm square of blue felt
- 15cm X 15cm square of green felt
- Scraps of black felt for facial features
- Polyester fiberfill
- Two wiggly eyes
- Magnet (optional)
- Hot glue gun or strong craft glue
How to Make Your Emotions Softie
1. Place the green square of felt onto the blue square and pin them together. Draw a circle approximately 10cm in diameter close to the bottom of the square as shown above. I made my circle by drawing around a bowl that was about the size I wanted.
2. Sew around the circle leaving a 5cm opening for stuffing.
3. Push in small amounts of polyester fibrefill until it feels right. Sew the opening closed. I’ve drawn on lines at the top of the circle as a cutting guide for my softie’s hair.
4. Cut fringe at the top and cut off the rest of the felt from around the circle. Glue on wiggly eyes. Cut two little eyebrows from black felt for added expression and glue into place.
5. Cut out a mouth from black felt. Remember, this mouth isn’t glued on. Just press it down firmly and it will stick to the felt. When you want it can be a happy face as above…or a sad face as below:
You can also cut some different shaped mouths to increase the range of expressions, like this worried face:
You could also cut a round circle mouth for a surprised or excited face.
6. If you want your softie to stick to the fridge, glue the magnet to the back
7. Choosing a name for your softie is vital! It’s amazing how quickly a name brings an object to life in the imaginations of children…as mentioned, I’ve called mine Lester!
For more simple sew softie ideas, check out Trixi’s blog.
About Trixi: Trixi Symonds is author of the children’s sewing book, Sew Together Grow Together. She is the founder of Sew a Softie a worldwide initiative to encourage parents to sew with their children. She blogs at Coloured Buttons. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest