Nonverbal kids might need a progression of several strategies as they move toward more sophisticated forms of self-expression. (Kids may too young to have the vocabulary to release their feelings, or when they have experienced traumatic experiences that prevent them from doing so.)

Watch this video in which Sophia helps Rosita release her anger. Ask families if they can identify how Sophia helps Rosita express her feelings. Ask “What else might you do to release big feelings?”

Then, talk with parents about how Sophia helped Rosita. What words does she use? How does her voice sound? What does her body language look like? She:

  • Notices and acknowledges her feelings and reassures her they’re okay
  • Reminds her that it’s good to express her feelings
  • Encourages her to express the full force of her anger (reassuring Rosita that, as the adult, she can handle it)
  • Suggests other ways to express other big feelings
  • Provides a comforting lap when Rosita is done

Finally, point out to adults that self-expression with music, dramatic play, movement, and visual arts can be a powerful tool in healing. On chart paper, brainstorm together reasons why creative expression might help. (When working with kids, you might simply say, “Sometimes we don’t have the words to say how we feel. But we can find other ways to help us understand our feelings, and share them with others. That can help our bodies and minds relax.Then we can start using words.”)