Children love the colorful, descriptive images of Feeleez and jump right into play. Almost immediately children begin to relate to the Feeleez images and start talking about their own lives, their own struggles, and their own fears and dreams. This is wonderful! Feeleez offers children a language in which to discuss something previously hidden, and an avenue through which they can receive empathy from the adults that care for them.
For young children, those not able to verbalize feelings, and those at any moment choosing not to articulate with words, identification of a feeling can happen by merely pointing a finger at a Feeleez image or holding a Feeleez card. This is empowering. Finding a mirror of their own feeling eases suffering and feels deeply satisfying. To be understood by the people that are most important to them has an intensely calming effect. This is, in fact, a crucial human need. Often a conflict can be resolved quickly and painlessly by simply letting each child claim the Feeleez kid they identify with. With an understanding of what each person is feeling, conflict shifts and a solution is easily found.
But as a bonus… all of this play, new vocabulary, and empathy lead children to a sense of empathy for others! By identifying their own feelings they start to recognize those same feelings in the people around them. This recognition is the foundation of empathy.
Individual Feeleez have not been given labels on purpose. We have offered a list of suggestions to get you started. We have found that when a label is present children that can read (and parents!) spend their time memorizing the right answer instead of exploring their understanding of the feeling. Leaving a number of the images ambiguous leaves room for kids to let you know what goes on in their minds and hearts, what they actually feel.
Empathy is crucial! Empathy is “kryptonite” to all forms of bullying. It is essentially impossible to harm another human being while simultaneously feeling empathy for them. Empathy is essential for peaceful interactions of all kinds. Empathy is even what lies behind good manners and respect.