Home of the Bear Cards

The Bear Cards® – Ideas for Parents

Families deal with feelings and emotions every day – so why not make it easier to have those conversations by having a pack of The Bears Cards® on hand….

Frequent use of the cards will encourage easy conversations about feelings so that when things do get sticky or tricky, talking about the difficult feelings becomes easier.

The Bear Cards® games and activities can be lots of fun – yet each time your family plays them, they will subtly improve everyone’s ability to express their feelings more honestly and accurately.

Children who can recognise, identify and express their feelings more easily have a great advantage in life. They have improved social skills, can empathise with others, can deal with setbacks and are far less likely to have mental health issues in later life.

Here are some activities to get your family talking about feelings. You can also visit the More Games page.

  • Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

    Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

    Intro:
    This activity helps family members to reflect on the feelings in their day. Over time it can be useful in identifying recurring patterns.

    Instructions:
    Bring out The Bear Cards after the evening meal and ask each person to think about how they felt at breakfast time that day. Pass the cards around and each person chooses a bear that best represents their feelings at that time.

    Repeat the exercise for lunch and dinner times so that each person has three bears.

    Invite everyone to describe their choices and to comment on others’ choices. Respect the right of anyone to not respond and, if so, just simply acknowledge their choices.

    Variation:

    You can also use this activity for tracking feelings over any other time frame or event. Try it for different times of the week, an afternoon or even family events such as Christmas or outings.

    Questions/Conversation starters:
    Why did you feel like that at that time?
    What happened between times that made you feel different?
    How often do new feelings arise?
    What was the overall feeling for the day or event?
    What patterns can you see in your feelings?
    What is your best time of day?
    What is your worst time of day?

  • Name Your Frame

    Name Your Frame

    Buy a magnetic photo frame for each family member and use a marker pen to write each person’s name on their frame. Stick them on the fridge and encourage people to choose a card for how they are feeling at the moment and put them in their photo frame. Anyone can change their own card at any time as their feelings change. This will get people talking about and sharing their feelings.

  • My Bear

    My Bear

    Intro:
    Use this activity to explore the diversity of feelings in your family at any given time.

    Instructions:
    Spread out the cards, face up. Think of a situation where all family members were there and invite them to take a few moments to choose a card that shows how they were feeling at the time. After everyone has selected a card, take turns to talk about how you were feeling at the time. After everyone has discussed what they were feeling you can go on to explore how people were experiencing such a variety of emotions.

    Questions/Conversation starters:
    Why do people feel differently about the same situation?
    Would you behave differently if you knew how others were feeling at the time?
    Can you understand why people did what they did?

  • Ups and Downs

    Ups and Downs

    Intro:
    Ups and Downs is an activity which encourages family members to talk about the high and low points of their day (or week, if doing this activity on a weekend). Conversations about both pleasant and unpleasant feelings reinforce the fact that having highs and lows is perfectly normal and healthy. Simply being aware that unpleasant feelings do occur, helps to keep them in perspective and makes the event or situation easier to deal with.

    Instructions:
    Ask everyone to think of the worst thing that happened during the day (or week). Spread out The Bear Cards and ask each person to choose a bear that best shows how they felt about it at the time.

    Next, ask everyone to think about the best thing that happened during the day (or week). Ask each person to choose a bear that best shows how they felt about it at the time.

    Acknowledge all the choices and invite everyone to describe the situations which evoked both feelings. Respect anyone’s right to not respond.

    Questions/Conversation starters:
    Why did you feel like that at that time?
    Was your worst time an isolated incident or something that is likely to happen again?
    What could you do to make the unpleasant times better in the future?

  • Once Upon A Time…

    Once Upon A Time …

    Intro:
    This activity is great for children to learn to recognise others’ emotions and see the connections between feelings and actions.

    Instructions:
    Spread out the cards, face up. Choose any short story (fairy tales like Red Riding Hood are good) and tell the story, stopping along the way to choose cards that show how the characters are feeling. You can focus on just one character if you like. As the story continues you can make a storyboard of feelings.

    Questions/Conversation starters:
    How would you feel if you were in the same situation as the character?
    Would you have acted in the same way as the character?

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