Research within the field of psychology suggests that fewer children are able to cope with the complex range of emotions that they are confronted with these days.
Globally, experts have reported a decline in emotional intelligence (EQ) amongst children, which is detrimental to their capacity to work harder, resolve conflict, explore new activities and achieve more in life. The inability to express their feelings result in a general lack of communication, poor discipline and frustration that manifests low self-esteem within both children and parents.
Cape Town-based child therapist and social worker, Shontell Fiet, applied her extensive knowledge and experience of child play therapy to develop a support tool for parents and therapists in need of a practical solution. Introducing iFeel, Fiet developed a unique card game that enables parents and therapists to facilitate an environment in which children are encouraged to identify, express and regulate their feelings more effectively.
Comments Fiet: “We live in a fast-paced, technology-driven, hyper-connected society, yet our children struggle to express their thoughts and feelings. Globally, there is a growing concern that children are not able to effectively understand and manage their own feelings – let alone identify and sympathise with the feelings of others.”
The game includes a deck of 14 animal-themed cards that promotes a fun and non-threatening context in which children – aged three and older – can safely explore and express their feelings. Through the power of projection, the game teaches children to identify and express their emotions. The facial expressions and visual clues within the cards are intended to encourage the child to project their own interpretations, which means that there are no right or wrong answers. This enables parents, teachers and therapists to gain an in-depth understanding of their experiences – both positive and negative – to address problem areas, improve their social skills, memory, cognitive skills and vocabulary.
Commenting further, Fiet says: “Our ability to develop and maintain emotional intelligence is paramount to the early childhood development stages. An emotionally intelligent individual is more likely to achieve confidence and success than a person who simply has a high IQ, supporting the argument that we need to teach our children to identify, acknowledge and regulate their feelings from a young age.”
Fiet developed this game to provide an easy-to-use, affordable tool for parents, teachers and anyone actively involved with childhood development. Commenting on the ultimate benefits to parents, she adds: “I believe that – when our children are confident that their feelings will be heard within a safe, stimulating environment – they will learn to communicate them effectively.”