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Exploring Our Feelings

How we feel affects our actions

by Gordon Lamont (revised, originally published in 2009)

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To explore the effect that our feelings can have on us and how we can deal with them.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the means to display the children’s ideas in the ‘Assembly’, Step 1.

Assembly

  1. Ask the children to think about words that describe feelings. Write them up in two groups, but don’t comment on the words or where you’re allocating them.

    One list should end up with words such as:

    - happy
    - delighted
    - excited
    - hopeful

    The other list should end up with words such as:

    - a
    ngry
    - sad
    - nervous
    - frightened

  2. The lists have been separated into feelings that we generally like and those that we try to avoid.

    Discuss this distinction with the children and point out that our feelings are not as simple as we might think. For example, isnt it good to feel a bit nervous before being in a play, playing a sports match or taking a test? Don’t we like being a tiny bit frightened before a rollercoaster ride or during a scary film? If we think about it, we probably choose to do these last two because they are a bit scary!

  3. Ask the children for examples of situations that have led to any of the feelings in the lists.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  4. Point out that, when the children were telling their stories, they said things like ‘I felt’ or ‘It made me feel . . .’. This shows that we dont just have feelings; we can think about them, too. We don’t have to give in to our feelings and let them tell us what to do.

  5. If we are feeling angry, we can learn to step back from the feeling and say in our minds, ‘I have angry feelings.’ This is much better than saying, ‘I’m angry’, because even though we feel angry, being angry isn’t all of us; we don’t have to let our feelings take over.

  6. Explain that this can be quite difficult to do, for adults, too. However, the important part is to learn to say, for example, ‘I have angry feelings’, not, ‘I am angry.’ This will help us to control our feelings.

Time for reflection

Ask the children to listen to the following poem and try to understand its meaning.

When things go well and happiness comes my way,
It’s good to enjoy it, to have a joyful day.
But when people annoy me, I can get a bit mad.
Angry feelings take over me,
Or I feel nervous or maybe sad.
I can keep those feelings in their place,
They’re not the biggest deal.
They are not me,
They’re NOT me,
They’re just something that I feel.

Ask the children what they understand from the poem.

Listen to a range of responses.

Prayer
Dear God,
Thank you for all the feelings we have and that each one has its place.
It’s right to be scared if we’re in danger.
It’s great to be happy when we can.
Please help us to control our bad feelings and not be overwhelmed by them.
Amen.

Song/music

‘Give me oil in my lamp’ (Come and Praise, 43)

Publication date: October 2019   (Vol.21 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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