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“I Struggled With My Children’s Negative Behaviour” – How Emotional Literacy Helped Me And My Family

Why emotional literacy is important, and how puppets can be a reason to smile.

  • “I Struggled With My Children’s Negative Behaviour” – How Emotional Literacy Helped Me And My Family

The dilemma: When my youngest child was three years old he displayed negative behaviour on a daily basis, and this effected everyone in our household.

I was advised to speak to him about emotions, but being a playful and active little boy, he had no interest in a dull conversation about feelings.

I racked my brain trying to find ways to approach the topic in a fun and interactive way. I scoured the internet for products and ideas that would help, but everything I came across was either very expensive or not interactive enough to retain his attention.

Back to basics: Playtime

“What about puppets?” I thought.

I blew the cobwebs off my sewing machine and with some scrap material I made two hand-puppets.

We had loads of fun playing with the puppets, we even swapped roles, with me using his puppet – having tantrums and screaming.

He thought my actions were hilarious. My idea was not going to plan. I did not want him to think that negative behaviour was funny.

So I thought, “How great would it be if we could change the facial expressions on the puppets?”

A few pieces of Velcro, cardboard and a felt tip pen later, we identified the emotions we had on the cardboard pieces and continued with our playtime.


“I feel angry!” he said, placing the angry face on his puppet who was in full-blown tantrum mode.

“I feel sad.” I replied, placing the sad face on my puppet.

The puppet tantrums stopped instantly.

“Why are you sad?”, he asked with a confused look upon his face.

“When you are angry it makes me feel sad because I don’t know why you are angry.” I watched him as he was thinking, contemplating what I had said.

“What if I have a happy face?” he asked.

“Then I too have a happy face because It makes me feel happy and proud when you are happy.”

“Mam, what is proud?”

Happy face

And that is how our conversation began. We played with the puppets on a regular basis and introduced new emotions and scenarios as he got older.

I saw the benefits of my son being able to recognise, label and regulate his emotions very early on, as his negative behaviour reduced dramatically and the communication between us vastly improved.

Six years down the line I feel proud to see my children confident, socialising with others, building friendships and doing very well in school.

I never considered how important teaching children emotional literacy is until I tried it for myself.

In April 2013 I won the Swequity people’s choice award with my puppet idea and turned it into a viable business proposition. In September 2013, my company Moodmwd was established and our initial product was created. Gem’n’Huw, two character puppets that come with their own set of attachable emotional faces. I have also written storybooks to complement the puppets. They are available for parents, teachers and other professionals.

Please visit our website moodmwd.com, follow us on Twitter at @MoodmwdLtd and like us on Facebook at @Moodmwd to find out more.

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