Want to help your little one learn how to manage big emotions?
Sparkle jars are a great visual aid to help children learn about their emotions and how to calm their mind and body.
For this activity you will need a sparkle jar, also known as a mindfulness jar.
I have included the recipe below for those that want to get crafty. I have also included a link to where you can buy a sparkle jar for those that don’t feel crafty or are short on time and prefer to fast track straight to enjoying their sparkle jar.
Give your child a sparkle jar and explain to them that we are going to learn how to let our sparkles settle. Ask your child to shake their jar fast. Explain that the glitter / sparkles, are like the thoughts in our head. When we feel strong emotions (like sad, angry, scared, anxious, or excited), our thoughts whirl around in fast and crazy directions and it makes it hard for us to think clearly, just like how our sparkles are whirling around. If we hold on to these feelings it can make our body uncomfortable. We might feel a bit sick in the tummy, or sore around our shoulders and neck. Now place your jar on the floor in front of you, and pop your hands on your knees. Slowly take some deep breathes with your child, as you watch the sparkles settle. Ask your child to notice what is happening to the sparkles and how their calm breathing makes them feel. Explain that with deep breathing (and time) the sparkles in the jar settle and the water becomes clear, just like with deep breathing our mind becomes calm and we can think clearly, our body relaxes and we feel good. Explain that it is normal to feel strong emotions, but when they want feel calm we can take some deep breaths and let our sparkles settle.
It’s a great idea to let your child play with their sparkle jar regularly, not just when they are feeling big emotions, to help them develop their emotional self-regulation skill. You may find the sparkle jars extra helpful when your child is experiencing new situations outside of their comfort zone, or when they are upset with a sibling and could benefit from taking a moment to calm themselves rather than reacting impulsively. By focusing their attention on their breathing and the sparkles, they can reduce their attention on thoughts and emotions.
As children become older and more familiar with the sparkle jar calming technique, they can visualise letting their sparkles settle without using a real jar. This is helpful when children start school and may not have access to their jars.
Enjoy the journey of helping your child learn to let their sparkles settle.
If you would like to discover other age appropriate and fun mindfulness activities that you can do with your child, you are welcome to join us at KineticKids. Register for a free trial KineticKids class here.
All the best with your health and wellness journey.
Dr Tamara Street
Mum of two beautiful boys, psychologist, exercise professional, and Director of KineticKids
You can purchase a mindfulness jar from our store.
Recipe for a 250ml Sparkle Jar
110mls glycerine (some recipes substitute glycerine with corn syrup or glue, but we prefer glycerine to keep the water clear. You can find this in the pharmacy section for approximately $9 for 200mls).
140mls water (approximately 70 mls hot water and 70 mls cold water)
2 tea spoons fine glitter (some recipes substitute glitter for glitter glue. We found glitter glue clumped together, so we recommend dry glitter. Thick glitter will settle quicker than fine glitter due to the additional weight.)
4 drops of washing up liquid
1 jar (Sparkle jars are often glass jars, however we recommend clear plastic jars to avoid tears if they are dropped by young children)
Pour the hot water into the bowl. Then add the glycerine. Whisk until the water and glycerine are combined consistently. Then add the cold water to reduce the temperature of the liquid mixture. Now pour the mixture into the jar.
Sprinkle the glitter into the jar. Then add four drops of washing up liquid.
Screw the lid on the jar and then give the jar a shake to check if you are happy with the amount of glitter and how quickly it settles. You can add more glycerine to slow the rate that the glitter settles, or more hot water to increase the rate that the glitter settles.
When you are happy, dry the lid and add silicone to the inside of the lid before screwing and sealing the lid in place. We did this to avoid leaks and to prevent little helpers from removing the lid and decorating our floor with glitter liquid.