One of the most rewarding experiences is playing CONVERSATIONS That with children. Children are so open and love connecting with their emotions. Seeing children develop EQ skills brings joy to the whole family while creating solid foundations for emotional maturity.
Based on play-testing, here are the ways you can play CONVERSATIONS That with children. In our experience, if children understand the basic emotional concepts, they can participate. Chronological age is not as important as maturity.
Any number of children can participate with at least one adult. Use the emotions cards (white backs) face down in a pile. Play each round until everybody is comfortable. Feel free to stop on a round if players are too young to understand the objective.
Round 1: "I Feel" and "I Think"
Have everybody take turns drawing a card and sharing "I feel," and then "I think," statements. If they do not understand the emotion, teach it to them--this will expand their vocabulary.
Round 2: Asking Permission to Share
Player draws a card and shares an "I feel" statement, then asks if they can share the reason they feel that way. The group will give permission and then the player will continue. Saying "I think" is helpful but not necessary at this point.
Round 3: Inviting Each Other to Share
Player draws a card and shares an "I feel" statement. The next person in the group will ask if that person would like to share the reason they feel that way. The player will then continue sharing.
Round 4: Adding Appreciations
To play this round, children will need to understand what an appreciation is. To make this simple, start by teaching them to use the phrase, "I appreciate that because." They can get more creative with their appreciations later.
Player draws a card and shares both an "I feel" and "I think" statement. The next person in the group shares an appreciation in response. The maturity and understanding of the players will determine how complex the appreciations are. The goal is to simply teach children to respond to others' emotions in affirming and encouraging ways.
Round 5: Adding Open Questions
To play this round, children will need to understand the difference between open and closed questions. Take some time to teach the difference.
Player draws a card and shares an "I feel" statement. The next person (or adult if some are too young) will ask an open question about that emotion. For example, "When do you feel that way the most?" The player responds.
Round 6: Open Questions and Appreciations
For this round, every player will need to understand have the ability to use both open questions and appreciations properly.
Player draws a card and shares an "I feel" statement. The next person will ask an open question about that emotion. The player responds. The same person that asked the open question, or next person in the group, will then offer an appreciation.
Mix Things Up
Feel free to mix up how each round is played. In some variations, one player shares an emotion and the entire group gets to ask a series of open questions. This creates conversational continuity. As you play more together, different ideas and variations will come up. Don't be afraid to try them together which will create even more Collaborative Change and Joy.
Remember It's a Game
Sometimes there will be a temptation to hash out family issues while playing CONVERSATIONS That. Remember to always maintain joy throughout. The primary objective is to let children know that all emotions, even negative ones, can be shared while maintaining joy—being glad to be together.
If children start to argue, or things get tense because of unresolved emotions, teach children about Collaborative Change versus the Corrective Complex. Later, all the concepts of EQ and Attunement can be introduced. We are always surprised as to how quickly children learn EQTunement. Try it.
Feel free to comment if you have any ideas, feedback or questions about playing CONVERSATIONS That with children.