Exploring Seasons to Better Understand Emotions: A Mindfulness Discussion for Kids
Updated: Feb 12, 2019
No matter where we live, we live within seasons. Whether they present themselves as four seasons or simply as a duality of either dry or rainy season, the presence of them points towards an unavoidable aspect of life: that is, change. Change thrives wherever we go; it is the only constant thing we can count on.
The four seasons portray this change quite beautifully, and while we may resist a certain season (mainly speaking, those of us who live where winters are harsh), they come and go in accordance to their own rhythm. While we might wish we had control over them and what they bring, the reality is that we do not.
Seasons are an incredible metaphor for the flow of life, and it is one that is tangible enough for children to understand. Through the exploration of seasons, we can teach children to understand the ebb and flow of life as it relates to their emotions. As children become more mindful and aware of the nature of things, they become more content within the way life flows; their emotional intelligence stengthens. In this way, season exploration helps us to raise happy and healthy children, more aware of what moves within them.
Summer, autumn, winter, and spring each present various textures, sensations, opportunities, and challenges. By beginning a dialogue with children about these four seasons, we can deepen their understanding of the transitory nature of their emotions, facilitating their ability to pass through “dark” or “cold” moments. This exploration has a positive impact on children’s mental health as they begin to understand their emotions from a place of heightened awareness and from a knowing that, “this too shall pass.”
Exploring seasons individually
One great way to engage children in this theme is by starting a conversation about what they believe different seasons represent and feel like. The dialogue can move alongside their capacity for self-awareness and will vary in depth depending on their ages. You may use a whiteboard or chalkboard to write down key words to help direct their flow and make tangible their thoughts.
Beginning with summer, we might ask: what does summer feel like? How do we feel when the days are warm and long? If summer were an emotion, which one (or ones) would it be? Through exploration of each season, we would open the dialogue to include ideas about the opportunities and challenges posed by each time of year. Refraining from declaring certain aspects or seasons as “positive” or “negative” helps them to approach the discussion with confidence and non-judgment.
As we move to autumn, winter, and spring, we would do the same, highlighting that there are potential opportunities and challenges present in each season. In any challenge that arises, we present them with the challenge of finding the silver lining. For instance, if the children (or child) equate winter with the feeling of sadness, we can encourage them to come up with healthy ways of navigating this feeling. “How does one find comfort in winter?” we might ask. Answers might include: by finding warmth, by staying close to friends and family, by cuddling up on the couch, or by building a snow fort.
The directions for this to go are endless, as each child contributes from a different background and relationship to seasons and emotions. As the teacher or parent, it is important to provide a safe space to let their thoughts and feelings be heard. Through this exploration, we encourage them to find healthy ways to manage their emotions and their dynamic energy.
Tying it all together
The larger picture is one of wholeness and transition. No matter where we find ourselves, we can be certain that the emotional landscape will change. All individuals need most assistance with trusting that light will come after a period of darkness – or that happiness will come after sadness – and children are no exception. As they grow, they will undoubtedly encounter challenging emotions. We can provide them with guidance or tools about what to do when these struggles arise.
When metaphorical winter comes with its heaviness and its darkness, there might be a call for hibernation (i.e. journaling, drawing, reflecting, or resting), for seeking warmth and support (i.e. talking to a trusted adult, curling up on the couch with a book), or for thawing the ice (i.e. going for a run, playing outside). The solutions will of course vary dependent upon the age of the children and their individual makeup. By engaging in this dialogue, children begin to understand the wealth of tools available to them when life and emotions prove challenging.
Why the seasons at all?
Depending on the intellectual capacity of the children, this exploration might pose a rather challenging philosophical question: why do we have to have seasons at all? Why can’t it be summer all the time?
The question might stump us, but perhaps the best answer is this: Because the fact of that matter is that life is in constant flow. By facilitating children’s ability to see the way that emotions (as with all things in life) come and go, they become more confident in the face of adversity. We might also leave them with some notion in alignment with the words of Anne Bradstreet:
“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."