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Parent and Carer Information 

When the Rain Came Down  - A story about feeling sad 

Firstly, thank you for purchasing 'When the Rain Came Down', and welcome to our information area. This is a separate space away from the fun of the book, with the focus here on supporting you to support your child. 

We have information about the visiting emotion of sadness, some guidance through the playful activities, and a few tips for helping your child with their feelings, from a qualified therapist with lots of experience in supporting children and families.

The therapeutic story

This story uses the simple metaphor of a cloud in the sky filled with tears. Cleo the cloud feels sad about the end of summer, and wants this feeling to go away. The helper character in this story, is her friend Sol the sun.

Rather than try to fix the feeling, or cover it up, Sol welcomes it as a visitor, which, like any visiting emotion, won't stay around forever. Through this, Cleo comes to realise that sadness is okay, and that the sun will shine again tomorrow,

As the adults in a child's life, we can support them with their difficult feelings by accepting and validating all of our children's emotions, helping them to understand the feeling, and find ways to express them safely.

A closer look at sadness

Sadness is one of the most common human emotions, and one of the first feelings that we learn and understand as the opposite of 'happy'. The difficulty with sadness is that we human beings naturally want to suppress what feels bad, and so, understandably, parents want to take the painful feeling away and protect the child. We want our children to be happy.

It is easy to see how, just like Cleo, we may have internalised the well-meaning message of  'Cheer up' and 'stop crying' from the day our very first tears dropped. 

Cleo feels this sadness and tries to keep it inside so that it doesn't affect anyone else. Unfortunately, when you are a rain cloud, this is a very hard thing to do! The metaphor of the cloud used within the story was chosen to reflect our human relationship with the feeling of sadness, and normalise it. Sadness is simply a part of our rainbow of emotions, and we don't need to hide it, or feel guilty about it.  In fact, internalising our negative emotions can have an adverse effect on both our physical and our mental health. It is okay to let it out.

Emotions at Play has connection at it's very core, and reading a story together is a wonderful way of connecting with a child. You will have heard us talk about ‘the magic recipe’ here at Emotions at Play, and, we like to think about the relationship between yourself and your child as the container for this recipe. As you explore the book together, you will find plenty of ingredients to add to your pot, but the key part of the magic is you.

Let 'Rags' be your guide- Our trusty mascot is on hand to guide you through the story. Rags will lead you to fun games, experiments and crafty ideas to bring the story from the page and into your child’s world.

'I wonder' statements - Often used in therapeutic conversation in place of 'why'questions,

'I wonder'statements are much softer and don't force a response. Our young people do not always have the answer to 'why', but 'I wonder if..' brings about a shared curiosity and a feeling of being on the journey together. It's only a slight change of words yet it can make a real difference. 

The child always leads - A really important piece in Emotions at Play is that the child leads and the adult follows. Play is a child's natural mode of expression, so if we lead, we simply take over the conversation and suppress our child. Our books are filled with activities and ideas to ignite your child's curiosity. They are offered, but never forced. 

Pick the right time - Make sure that your are emotionally regulated within yourself before starting the story. If you are feeling stressed or are trying to sandwich it in between activities, you won't be able to fully focus on your child. Take time to breathe and settle so that you are in an emotional state that will support your child. Put your mobile phone on silent to allow this special time to be just between you. 

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It can be difficult to know what to do, and how to do it when our children have big feelings. Try some of these steps to help support your young person through the storm to find the sunshine again.

Really 'hear' your child

​The first step - Accept and validate the feeling that your child is communicating to you. Really 'hearing' your child and conveying this can take some practice, because many of us are wired to respond with 'don't cry!' . The problem with this statement is that it overlooks or diminishes the great big feeling of sadness that the child is expressing.; This feels huge, and their nervous system is all over the place. 

You can communicate acceptance with an easy, simple reflective statement such as ‘ You are feeling really sad right now, It's ok to feel sad'

When a child feels that their feelings are heard, seen and validated, the nervous system can calm and settle. 

Co-regulate

Physically connecting with your child with a hug, or an arm, is a way of co-regulating, and sharing your calm nervous system. Young children cannot yet self regulate and they need connection when their body is overwhelmed with a big emotion. If you can, a slow gentle pat can be a great way to soothe them and mirror a regulated heart beat, and soothing sway can mimic the baby-mother connection from the womb. 

Resist the urge to fix 

The shared connection and validation is the 'sunshine' to the cloud, and helps the child feel emotionally held through the sadness, which will naturally reduce it.

We all want to make our child feel better and there may well be something that helps, but the uncomfortable truth is that there isn't always a solution to sadness. Sometimes, just sitting with the feeling together while it passes is the best thing we can do. 

Play detective

Young children don't always know 'why' they feel sad, or have the words to articulate it. Sometimes, like Cleo, the cause is obvious, but when it isn't, it can be helpful to step back and look at the bigger picture. This could be looking for a pattern in the times when sadness visits the most. Also, noticing if other needs or emotions such as jealousy, embarrassment, low self esteem, sensory overwhelm, fear, tiredness or disappointment are hiding behind the sad cloud. Although we can't take the sadness away, we might be able to address the need or cause for next time.

Look after yourself

The saying 'we are only as happy as our unhappiest child' is never more true. Parenting is tough, and when our children are sad, we are sad too. Combine this with the deep need to 'fix' the situation, and you can understand why caregivers can experience secondary sadness themselves. Be kind to yourself, make time for whatever helps you, and find an adult that you can talk to. This will pass.

Revisit

The sad feeling has inevitably packed its bags, and the sun is shining again. Don't be afraid to talk with your child about what happened when everyone is in a more regulated state.  Be playful, accepting and curious about the visiting sadness.

When does it turn up for a cup of tea? What colour is it? I wonder what the sad is telling us? show me its voice!

We can make friends with all our emotions, even those that feel negative. 

Consider making a plan

Although we don't need to fix the sadness in the moment, we can think about what the sadness might need next time it visits. This might be as simple as a big hug, a favourite song and a cold drink, or there might be a problem that sad needs help with. Having a plan helps to communicate that no emotion is bigger than us. Together, we've got this.

Try our challenges range

If your child has had a difficult experience such as bereavement, separation or life change that may be contributing to their low mood, try our challenges book range, which comes with more focused support in helping your child through the more difficult periods in their life. 


 

Know when to ask for help

Passing sadness is normal. It may be caused by a life event, or a tiny blip, but in most cases and with care, it doesn't last. If you notice that your child is sad a lot of the time, or if the sadness in in response to a big life change, then this might be time to seek advice from a professional. You can contact a children's therapist or request help from your GP. Often the child's school or nursery might be able to help and support your child. 

In your book, alongside the therapeutic story, you will find art, craft, science, games and sensory activities guided by our mascot, Rags. 

 

  • Art- Drawing, painting, sketching; all wonderful ways for us to unconsciously convert what is going on inside us to the outside. We don't need to interpret or understand our art to benefit from it, and there are no rights and wrongs in how we make art. 

  • Science - Science is a great way to get curious about our experiences. Experimenting with ideas and problem solving can create new neural pathways to help us.

  • Games - The opposite to a passive learning experience, games often involve movement and by engaging in activities, we come to see problems from different angles. Aside from the serious stuff, games are fun, and improve connection, social skills and self esteem.

  • Sensory - Because the 'thinking' part of the child's brain is the last to develop, sensory activities meet children where they are developmentally. Involving the five senses of sight, touch, taste, hearing, and smell, provides a multi sensory experience beyond the written word.

  • Crafts- Crafting is a lovely way to make a thought, a character or a feeling into a more concrete form that we can see and interact with. The story can be lifted from the pages through a creation, and lots of valuable problem solving takes place. Nothing is prescriptive in Emotions at Play activities, and if a child decides to go in a different direction with their craft making then this is absolutely okay! The child leads, and we follow.

  • Connection - Our stories and resources are all designed to put the relationship first and connection at the starting point. Children need their adults in order to self-regulate, grow and learn about the world and their place in it.

  • Child led - The foundation of play therapy is that the child leads the play. This is because we know that play is how our children communicate their inner world. Through child led play, children learn that their inner world is heard and understood, and that they are valued and respected humans.

 

 

1. Craft - Let’s be sky detectives!

How is Cleo feeling today? Can you spot her? If not, perhaps she'll be out another day.

This activity has been designed to normalise changing emotions. alongside changes in nature.

 

 You could use card tubes or rolled up paper. Pens, paints, sticky bits - anything goes! What can you see? 

2. Games - Make up cloud stories. 
If you are lucky enough to have the right conditions, you can lay back and cloud gaze together.  Can you take it in turns to make a story out of the characters? 

3. Question - I wonder if you have ever kept your tears inside?

The story is written to naturally open up thinking and talking about Cleo's sadness. Gently 'wondering' about feelings during this quiet time together can allow the child to recognise, and connect their own experiences with Cleo's. 

4. Sensory - Can you make the sound of the rain?

Try making a rain stick sensory bottle using what you have available. You’ll just need an old plastic bottle and some different materials to make a sound when the bottle is shaken. Anything from dry rice or pasta, pebbles or dried lentils and sticks, broken pens, or spaghetti. Try out different combinations to get the sound of light and heavy rain. This can bring about thinking around scales of sadness, from a little bit sad, quite sad, to really sad!

I wonder what Cleo's sad rain sounded like? What about the last time your child felt sad? Was it big and thundery or a tiny pitter patter?

​5. Science. - Drip, Drip, Drop Sponge experiment

Cleo held on to her sadness for as long as she could, but it all became too much! How much water can your sponge hold before it starts to drip, drip, drop? 

All you need for this is a dry bath or kitchen sponge and some drops of water. It can be used as a stand alone experiment or as part of water play in the garden, or bath time. The sponge will illustrate how Cleo kept her tears inside, before they started to drip out just like the sponge. 

6. Question - The rain made them happy. What makes you happy?

Think about what makes you and your child happy and make up happy dances just like the gardeners in the allotment!

7. Art - What might cheer Cleo up when she is having a bad day?

Design a happy kite filled with the sorts of things that might help Cleo, and imagine sending it up into the sky to her. This can be used as an opportunity to think about what helps your child when sadness visits, and what helps the people around you. 

How do we use the book?

How can I help my child when they feel sad?

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Rags' Activity Guidance

Let 'Rags' be your guide- Our trusty mascot is on hand to guide you through the story. Rags will lead you to fun games, experiments and crafty ideas to bring the story from the page and into your child’s world.

'I wonder' statements - Often used in therapeutic conversation in place of 'why'questions,

'I wonder' statements are much softer and don't force a response. Our young people do not always have the answer to 'why', but 'I wonder if..' brings about a shared curiosity and a feeling of being on the journey together. It's only a slight change of words yet it can make a real difference. 

The child always leads - A really important piece in Emotions at Play is that the child leads and the adult follows. Play is a child's natural mode of expression, so if we lead, we simply take over the conversation and suppress our child. Our books are filled with activities and ideas to ignite your child's curiosity. They are offered, but never forced. 

Pick the right time - Make sure that your are emotionally regulated within yourself before starting the story. If you are feeling stressed or are trying to sandwich it in between activities, you won't be able to fully focus on your child. Take time to breathe and settle so that you are in an emotional state that will support your child. Put your mobile phone on silent to allow this special time to be just between you. 

Tell me more about the activities and the benefits of play

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