For just a moment, step into your toddler’s adorably-sized shoes. All of a sudden, there is this sensation in your body and it doesn’t feel good. You don’t know what it is. You just want it to go away but, because you live so deeply in the present moment, it seems like the sensation will last forever. This panic sends a message to your brain and your brain sends a message to your body: There is a threat. React now!
Stage left, enter a toddler meltdown.
Seems a little scary, doesn’t it? So much happening in such a small moment of time for such a relatively new human. Stepping back into your adult shoes now, it kind of helps put into perspective the tears, power struggles, and thrashing that happen during your child’s dysregulation. It’s not that our toddlers have different emotions than us, but they are new and unfamiliar to them. This can feel pretty unsafe for a brain that’s still heavily under construction.
Name It To Tame It!
To decrease meltdowns associated with big, unpleasant emotions, we can give our children tools to communicate with them. This type of co-regulation takes the newness and scariness out of their feelings and replaces them with two key ingredients: connection and play.
Feelings face posters and plush toys help children create these pathways for emotional regulation when practiced in ritual with a safe, supportive adult (wink, wink, I am looking at you). When children realize that they have tools to work through these big feelings and that they are not alone in figuring them out, really amazing things happen.
For younger tots, kiddos with developmental speech delays, nonverbal children, and children who would rather “show” you their emotions than speak them aloud, SnuggleBuddies plush toys just might be the balm to soothe the alarm that happens when emotions take over. They mark all the boxes. Take a look for yourself.
- Safety: SnuggleBuddies are soft and cuddly which feels safe to your young learner.
- Motivating: Your child can choose from eight different snuggly plushes so that they are intrinsically motivated to learn about emotions with their new friend.
- Play-based: SnuggleBuddies are playful and fun, and as science shows, play is the language in which kids learn.
- Practical: Your kiddo can take their Pal with them wherever they choose so they can process emotions at home or on the go.
- Educational: SnuggleBuddies have four mood emojis to help children notice, name, and regulate their emotions.
Playing With SnuggleBuddies Plush Toys
Much like your child, each SnuggleBuddies has four main moods that live inside of them. These are represented by color-coded mood emojis, or "storytellers":
- Yellow = Happy
- Green = Calm
- Blue = Sad
- Red = Mad/Scared
Because children are wired with mirror neurons that mimic the nervous systems in front of them, model using the SnuggleBuddies yourself, sharing when you feel a big emotion. First, describe the emotional sensation in your body. “My jaw is clenched and my hands are sweaty.” Then share how you feel. “I feel mad.”
You may also witness these emotions within your child and help them notice as they occur. For example, let's say that your child wants a cookie and you set a boundary. Your child falls to the floor crying, banging his fists. You may say, “I notice you banging the floor. You wanted the cookie.” as you grab your child’s plush, pulling out the Red Emoji.
Over time, your child will begin to associate certain sensations with different mood emojis. You may also find that the presence of your child’s SnuggleBuddy offers comfort to help regulate him.
Another way to bring safety and familiarity to SnuggleBuddies is to create nightly rituals where your family comes together to share: “When did I feel happy, sad, calm, and mad today?” Even the youngest of learners, who can’t yet fully participate, absorb so much as they listen and watch. You can even use The SnuggleBuddies Feelings Song to make this ritual more playful.
And of course, maybe the best way to play with SnuggleBuddies is through actual play! Use the sing-a-long, Feelings Bingo, or encourage them to share using the laminated feelings journal that comes with each SnuggleBuddies. Role play or play pretend. Come up with new games with your child. The greatest learning is through exploration, and when emotions become something to explore together, we don’t have to experience them alone. Step by step, this is how we create an emotionally healthy home.