Image by: Jason Taellious

Put Your Thoughts On Ice

Age Range
4-7 yrs
Setup Time
Under a minute!
Setup Location
Indoor/ Outdoor

According to John Gottman, author of "The Heart of Parenting: Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child", emotion-coaching is the key to raising happy, resilient, and well-adjusted kids. His research—30 years of it—shows that it is not enough to be a warm, engaged, and loving parent. We also need to emotion coach our kids. Emotion-coached kids tend to experience fewer negative feelings and more positive feelings.

Gottman's first emotion-coaching step calls for parents to acknowledge their children's emotions, even if the emotion is a negative one. The method encourages parents to approach emotional displays as opportunities for intimacy and teaching instead of denying or dismissing negative feelings. The next important step in the process of helping your child is for him to learn to recognize and label his emotions.

As children become better at identifying and responding to their own emotions, they become more empathetic toward others' feelings, too.

Use this activity to discuss feelings and ways to deal with negative emotions


  1.  Have the child write down all their feelings on the strips of paper. Do not censor what they write but you may point out when certain things should not be said to others but should be kept private

  2. Fold the pieces of paper and put them in the container

  3. Fill the container with water and freeze

  4. After the water has frozen take it outside and remove it from the container

  5. Have the child smash the ice with a hammer. The paper will actually splinter. Once the ice is smashed remind the child that you are now done discussing this situation and it is time to move on. If the child brings the topic up again remind them that it is "smashed and done”

Disclaimer: This presents an overview of child development. It is important to keep in mind that the time frames presented are averages and some children may achieve various developmental milestones earlier or later than the average but still be within the normal range of development. This information is presented to help parents understand, at a high level, what to expect from their child. Any questions/concerns you may have about your child’s development should be shared with your doctor.