Naming Our Hubbubbles: Helping Children Identify Thoughts, Feelings, and Sensations
Updated: Jan 31, 2019
In my work with special needs children, I’ve found that many children struggle to talk about their emotions. I’m an occupational therapist, and I own a small business that serves children, their families, and their communities. Mind Yeti has provided me and the children I serve with a great tool for giving a name to the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that we experience everyday: Hubbubbles!
Over the summer, I worked with Kellye Tolley and Annemarie Leahy to offer a yoga and mindfulness camp for kids in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. The three of us led a variety of exercises with six children, ages 6 to13 years old, that focused on improving body and emotional awareness. During one of our sessions (we’ve shared our lesson plan here, we watched the Mind Yeti Welcome video, which introduces the Mind Yeti and describes thoughts, feelings, and sensations as “Hubbubbles” that “bubble up” and can become distracting or overwhelming. The video calls this mental noise that young people experience “the Hubbub.”
After watching the video, I drew a quick sketch of the Mind Yeti on the whiteboard, and asked the children to share a feeling they experience often. The children chose “worry.” I wrote this on the board, and then led a discussion in which we identified some of the thoughts and sensations we experience when we worry. We repeated the process for other emotions, like anger.
An example of Leigh’s discussion activity, using “Worry” as the key word.
The discussion was a very powerful component of our overall workshop. It helped the children create concrete language for sensations in their body when they worry. It also helped them to identify the different thoughts that we may have when we are stuck in worry—things like “What if…” or “People will think…” or "I’m not good at….” Being able to discuss feelings, thoughts, and sensations as part of a group helped the children normalize these challenging emotions. The children were able to see that they are not alone in feeling worried or angry; we all feel this way sometime.
The rest of the camp focused on yoga and mindfulness, so the children built on our discussion by exploring movement, breathing, and mindfulness exercises. They left our retreat with a self-created “toolbox” of self-regulation strategies. Naming their Hubbubbles was just one strategy to help them be aware of thoughts, feelings, and sensations before being swept away by them, and to help self-soothe and refocus when needed.
I’m planning to continue using Mind Yeti in my practice, both as a children’s yoga teacher and as a facilitator of workshops with special needs kids. The sessions help create a simplified, common language for children and adults around the emotional and physical reactions we all experience, but that can be challenging for children to understand. By giving a name to our Hubbub, we can all learn to respond rather than react when the world around us feels as though it is spinning too fast.
As a pediatric occupational therapist Leigh has worked with children with a variety of special needs, in school, hospital and early intervention settings.