Sunday, February 26, 2017

Building Emotional Intelligence

In Character Classes we have been working on building emotional intelligence for about a month. This means that the kids have been learning about different emotions and what they look like, sound like, and feel like.
Character Class at Voluntari.
Every week I read a story about a different emotion and then the kids complete a page in their "Feelings Files" booklet. So far we have covered happiness, anger, sadness, and fear. We will be learning about embarrassment this coming week.
Learning about anger.
Many of the kids have never stopped to think about the complexities of these different emotions. However, by beginning to think deeper about emotions they are actually beginning to identify their own feelings in various situations. I help this process by starting every class asking each child individually, "How do you feel today?" and "Why?" Of course, I always share how I'm feeling, even if it's not always a good feeling, because I want the kids to see how I identify my emotions and that all emotions are ok.
An example of the kids beginning to identify their emotions. They stated they would feel bad, empty in their stomach, and cold if someone cussed at them. These are sensations we have associated with sadness!
I really like having the opportunity to process with a child who might be feeling upset. I can reassure them that their feeling is valid and that it is ok to feel that way. I can also remind them that feeling upset is not the problem, how they choose to react to their feelings is the most important thing to think about. Last week I had the chance to praise a child for being able to move past a challenging situation and continue on in class without a problem.
Darius working on a picture of a sad monster.
Being able to talk about how they are feeling is so important for our kids. A lot of them express their emotions through anger and violence when they are really feeling sad, lonely, hurt, and confused. When they are able to identify their true feelings then God can really start to work on those parts of their heart.
Learning about sadness.
Please continue to pray that God will open the hearts of the kids to His healing. I am blessed to be a part of this process daily!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Some Play Therapy and Some Snow

Since my last post things have gotten a lot better with ministry. Our team has started praying together regularly for the kids and see improvements not only in our responses to them but their behavior as well. I have noticed so many more good moments with them than bad over the past few weeks. Even when things get a little crazy, there are still more positive moments to remember than challenging ones. And we have seen some really awesome things happening with the kids like remembering unexpected things from our lessons, stunning moments of insight, and consciously choosing to do what's right and not what is easy. Please continue to pray that the Holy Spirit would fill us daily as we work with these kids.

Petruța and I
Character Classes are going well. We are doing a unit on Emotional Intelligence and the kids are exploring what different emotions looks like, sound like, and feel like. So far we have covered happiness and anger. The unit has a detective theme so the kids are creating "Feelings Files" for each emotion we discuss.

I have also been doing individual play therapy sessions with some of the kids. I use games like Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders to teach about feelings and consequences for our actions. The kids really like the game Boom Boom Balloon where they get to poke a balloon with sticks until it pops. We talk about how the balloon represents us and the sticks represent things that upset us. We then discuss what happens when we don't have healthy coping skills (we "explode" like the balloon) and what we can do to help self-calm in challenging situations (deep breathing, writing, listening to music, praying, etc.). Sometimes I let the kids have free play time where I simply observe what they are doing. It's a lot of fun to see them working out problems in their head or acting out things they have experienced.
Marius free playing with Legos. He has a very vivid imagination. This started as a house and morphed into several other things before he was done.
Since the beginning of February the weather had started to get a little warmer. It was so nice to feel spring just around the corner and to see some of the snow finally starting to melt! However, that didn't last long as just the other day we had 3-4 more inches of snow. At least it didn't interfere with us going to see the kids as they were in the mountains on vacation this week.
Wednesday and Thursday were cold and snowy here!
I'm enjoying having a little break and catching up on things while the kids have been away. Next week we'll be jumping back into our emotions unit and learning about sadness. I'll be working with some of the kids on self-esteem issues, friendship building, and mindfulness in our individual sessions. I will be leading Youth Group in a few weeks as well. Pray for me as I prepare for these activities. Be in prayer for Heather as she is traveling to the States for two weeks of furlough this month and Mariana and I as we run our programing at the orphanage. Also, pray for our staff as we receive teams over the next few months and for the people coming who are serving on those teams.

As always, thank you for your prayers and support!