We all have bad days and we all experience bad moods. Children are no exception. Sometimes kids struggle because they do not yet have the tools to be able to regulate their emotions. This activity will help a child start to learn that he has the ability to regulate his own emotions and help himself when he is feeling upset. It will work best with younger children, particularly those in pre-school or early elementary school.
The Good Mood Dice activity comes courtesy of my daughter’s play group – with some modification to make it a tool to help a child practice positive coping strategies to improve mood. The dice can be used (or made by a creative child during session) as a therapy tool and could include specific coping strategies for dealing with anxiety, sadness, anger, or whatever emotional challenges the child is working on. Alternatively, it could be used in a small group or classroom setting to teach general emotion management skills. Families can also make and use a dice like this with their own children, based on strategies that they believe will be most helpful for their family.
Making your own Good Mood Dice to use with your child, students, or clients is very easy. I outline how I made my dice in this short YouTube video.
The strategies I used for my good mood dice are geared to help a child boost their mood by seeking connection with caregivers, therapists, or teachers, distracting them from rumination, encouraging fun movement, and encouraging a change in physical posture, which on its own can help boost mood. This particular dice is not filled with clinical coping strategies like deep breathing or muscle relaxation, although if a parent or professional is working on these skills with a child, they could certainly include such strategies. Alternatively, a child could choose his own strategies to include. I simply selected activities that were easy and fun, and that would not require in-the-moment instruction, in order to make using the dice appealing to a child who is struggling with a bad day or poor mood. If you want to use the strategies I used, you can download them in pdf form here. Be aware that in this set, there is a “Give someone a big hug” strategy. The strategy is great for a family dice; however, if you are using it for students or in session with clients, you may want to replace it for ethical reasons.
What I like most about this activity is the connection it can facilitate between child and adult. Yes, a child can learn how to bring themselves out of a bad mood by smiling, or doing some physical activity, or singing a silly song, for example. However, using the Good Mood Dice also provides an opportunity for an adult to engage with a child. This engagement provides a context for that adult to model appropriate coping skills, discuss the child’s concerns and emotions, and communicate care, all of which can have a powerful effect on a child’s ability to cope and bounce back from difficulty.
Make this a feeling dice! Put a different emotion or feeling face on each side of the dice and when a child rolls that emotion, the child could tell about a time she felt that emotion, could act out that emotion, or could act out a coping strategy (for older children).
I hope you have fun using this dice activity with your clients or children. Let us know in the comments how you might customize it for your own use.
If you would like some ideas for coping strategies for your Good Mood Dice, check out our coping skills handout.