A Heart Can Grow video
Among many great coping strategies for kids is drawing, which is a fine way to share important feelings. Explain that when we have to say goodbye to people (and places), it can feel like our hearts are breaking or shrinking, but that those memories don’t need to leave our hearts. As Karli did in the video, help children draw three outlines of hearts. Then help them write or draw in each of the hearts: Among many great coping strategies for kids is drawing, which is a fine way to share important feelings. Explain that when we have to say goodbye to people (and places), it can feel like our hearts are breaking or shrinking, but that those memories don’t need to leave our hearts. As Karli did in the video, help children draw three outlines of hearts. Then help them write or draw in each of the hearts:
- In the middle heart, children draw “the people and places I miss.”
- In the heart around that, encourage children to draw new, important grown-ups in their lives, new places they’re going, and new things they are doing and learning.
- In the outermost heart, invite children to draw things they would like to do, learn, try, and see—to build optimism as they look ahead.
If they don’t already have one, you might also help children create a “My Story” in which children record this type of information. The book belongs to them as they move around. Make a simple one by cutting sheets of paper into heart shapes and stapling them together, or just using a blank journal or notebook. They can add the heart drawing to the book when they’re done.
Children might also have a “Memory Box” (it can be as simple as a shoe box) in which children can keep things (including drawings) that help them remember people or places they miss.
Every person who comes into our lives makes the heart grow fuller. Here’s an activity to remind children that they do not lose their memories when they’re separated from those they love—they carry their memories in their hearts.
Print these pages and invite children to color the first one to create a pocket. Help them fold and tape along the lines. Then, together, look at the page with the hearts.
Explain that some people are part of our lives for a long time and some only for a short time, but each person can have a permanent place and memory in their heart. We can learn from many people, and our memories and feelings about them do not have to go away. Every person who comes into our lives makes our hearts grow fuller.
Help children identify the many people who have made a difference in their lives. Often children in foster care have many placements and experience a profound sense of loss. Teaching that each caring person in their life expands their heart (instead of focusing on the loss as a depletion) is a resilience-building strategy which promotes positive coping with change.
Help children draw on each heart, and write down what they say about their drawings. Ask children to describe who each person or place is, why they are important, and a simple memory. Then cut out the hearts. Use more paper if needed. They can then place the hearts inside the pocket and keep it in a safe place.
You can also gather pictures, photos, notes, or other small mementos to represent people who have been part of a child’s life. If that’s not possible, you can look through magazines or images on the internet to find a picture representing a memory (such as an image of cookies to representing a memory of baking cookies with a former foster parent).
Special thanks to Ann Thomas of The Children’s Place in Kansas City for this activity.