Today I am joined by Meg Price, who is the mother of Sara Price an 11 year old who created Positive Penguins, an iPhone and iPad app to help children understand their feelings – an important first step towards emotional intelligence. Let’s hear the wonderful story about Positive Penguin:
Have you ever noticed that the most opportune time to teach children about social emotional learning is often when emotions are running high? I am sure I’m not alone, in my home there are times I feel that my role is to manage everyone else’s emotions. Have you had one of those days when one child is in a rage because math homework is stupid, another child is categorically stating that he will never ever return to that school to be picked on again and then the one child who is usually happy is sitting in the corner bitterly disappointed because he didn’t make the football team….
This scenario would appear a perfect moment to start up a family conversation about feelings and how we behave when we feel bad. However, when emotions are running hot like this, trying to do so would likely result in all three children exploding and walking off before you have sat down. So instead if you’re anything like me, before you know it you’ve caught this terrible negativity virus and have joined the kids commencing to rant and rave about all the things that are annoying you at this moment in time. How can we teach the important lessons about emotional and social wellbeing when we often end up acting as badly as our children?
My 11-year-old daughter taught me the key to learning about emotions is to take the “emotion” out of emotional learning. She created an app called Positive Penguins based on positive psychology and brought to life four positive penguins to help children pinpoint their automatic and all too often-negative thoughts and help them challenge these thoughts to change their behavior.
Positive Penguins app aims to help children understand their feelings arise from these thoughts challenge these thoughts to change the way they feel.
Use positive penguins together with your children to empower them to choose their feelings:
- The app will ask you what happened? – what was the situation – usually pretty clear – I cannot do my homework, the mean kid bullied me today
- The app will then ask you why is that situation making you feel this way? This is the heart of the app and the toughest part for kids and adults, but the key to resilience. I cannot do my homework is not making me angry – I am angry as I don’t like to be wrong. The mean kid bullied me today isn’t making me feel bad – I feel bad because I don’t think others should treat me that way – nice belief but “broken”. The key is to restore a belief that can help kids change how they feel about the situation – other kids will be mean but you can choose to be the victim or to do something proactive about the situation.
- The app then takes you on a journey to meet 4 positive penguins who challenge the old belief and help establish a new belief.
- Once kids start understanding no situation or person makes them feel a certain way – only their own beliefs do, they can then challenge the beliefs and see what they can do about making the situation better.
- In time they will do this naturally and without the need for the app.
- Kids do need type in their answers to the questions. For younger kids, parents may help them put in the answers.
Kids need know having negative feelings is normal. They also need know they choose their feelings based on their belief. When challenging negative belief becomes a second nature, kids are to be successful at creating optimistic futures for themselves. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” (Eleanor Roosevelt).
Positive Penguin has two versions, one for iPhone/iPod, one for iPAD. It is $3.99 on App Store.
iGameMom has two copies of Positive Penguins to giveaway, one for iPhone, one for iPAD, thanks Meg and Sara.
To win the app, please leave a comment at this post, telling us what is the most common trigger for your child to get into a negative emotion. All entries entered by midnight Feb.15 are eligible to win.
The winner will be randomly picked and announced here at this post on Feb.16.
The Winner is Amy Marin Carlson and AmandaMac. Congratulations!
If you would like to check it out or purchase it, please use the App Store link provided below. The cost is the same to you, but iGameMom gets a small percentage. Thanks for your support! Note: The link works for all countries.
great app – and great resources! thanks for Liking my blog post yesterday – I think this is a valuable service – I have no kids but I serve lots of them. If I can think of a way to help support what you are doing I will let you know. This type of app in a book would be great for kids in Africa which is where I do most of my work right now. Blessings, Spryte
Thanks for your encouraging words!
Sounds like a neat app! Don’t enter me since I don’t own an i-anything, but hunger is a big trigger for all of my kids!
and thirsty for mine!
Hi Sara and I are really enjoying reading all these comments. Interestingly I had introduced Sara to this thinking when she was little – after I had read Martin Seligman’s book The Optimistic Child – but Sara was the clever one – for a school project she used the model but made it more fun with the penguins, simple questions and put it together on powerpoint to present to her class. It really wasn’t until I was using her powerpoint all the time with her brothers that I truly realised how amazing this is. Yes it does work for adults, we use it all the time and it is a great way to reduce stress and challenge your thinking! We would love schools to be teaching this as part of their social emotional learning so kids have this strategy before they hit high school. Anyway thanks for all the great comments – happy day!
Meg, thanks for a wonderful app. Sara should be really proud of herself.
This sounds like a really useful app! 🙂
WOW! What a wonderful interview. As a mother of two girls and a substitute teacher this app will be so helpful. As a sub. I see this many times, some kids have a hard time controlling their anger. From what I read from your article this app approaches the issue in a way that kids will understand. I really like the idea that the penguins actually act out the situation and then tells the child how he would handle what happened. I would like to share this app with some of the teachers that I work with. Once again thanks so much for making your readers aware of learning apps like this one.
Peggy, we are doing some interesting stuff in schools and hospitals with the app – please email me and I can send you some more info. firstname.lastname@example.org Meg (positive penguins)
This is a great app for a group setting I think, kids probably can benefit a lot from the discuss among themselves.
My daughter really struggles with disappointment and frustration when she doesn’t get what she wants.
I feel most kids have troubles with this one.
I have one child who is so easy breezy, she doesn’t take anything to heart. My oldest, however, has a need to be perfect, and therefore has a very hard time when he’s not, which is obviously a continous challenge.
This sounds like a great app (for kids and adults alike!)–I’ll definitely get it.
Fantastic young girl who thought of it! Well well done 🙂
I saw that in my son sometime. When things did not turn out they way he wanted, even if all just him. He could be frustraded and feeling upset – about his inability to achieve what he thought he could. I don’t think it is bad, as long as the negative emotion doesn’t stop his continued efforts.
My daughter becomes emotional when she is criticised. She doesn’t bounce back form failure, as well as other kids and definitly we all can get caught up in the negativity cycle. We need this app to help break the habits. Thanks so much for sharing this post.
I have to say I won’t feel good when I was criticised. I agree this app could be used for adults too.
What isn’t a trigger for my 5 yr old? He gets upset at changes in activity, even if he knows they are coming. He gets upset at leaving the house (even for fun stuff) and returning home. He gets upset at mealtimes because food makes him nervous, he claims he doesn’t like it even when he’s eaten it before. He gets upset when his brothers don’t listen to him, or do better than he does in a game, or wreck a game he’s playing. He gets upset when he can’t zip his coat, or put on gloves or has to rush to get somewhere because he’s wasted time laying on the floor whining about how he can’t do whatever it is we need him to do. This kid is a challenge. No exaggeration in this reply at all.
I feel your frustration. It is tough having a kid like this. Maybe try to focus on when he is happy and praise him for that whenever you can. Try to stay on the positive part! 🙂 I know it is easy to say it than living through it day by day. Good luck!
Fantastic! ‘m going to use this with my grandkids AND for myself, too! I just told my husband, who is studying to be a counselor, about it and he said, “That sounds like cognitive behavioral therapy.” (He likes it!) Pretty amazing from an 11 year old girl!
I’ll use it with my 4 year old grand-daughter because her most common trigger is being tormented by her 2 year old brother! I’ll use it with him because his most common trigger is . . . can you guess? He’s 2! (Two!) . . . being told “No!” 😀 I already bought it for my iPad because I couldn’t wait to see if I won it, but if I win it, I’ll give it to my daughter-in-law for her iPhone.
For kids that young, you might want skip typing the sentences, or just put in one or two key words to keep the process going. I felt it is also an learning process for me – like Meg said, the app is there to help us establish a positive thinking process.
Great! Hope you like it. Would love for you to come back leaving a note on how you use it. I agree it is amazing for a 11 year old to do that.
My grandkids are often triggered into anger by the perception that one or the other of them has gotten more or better than the other of something….
Sounds like an interesting approach.
Thanks for the alert!
Yea, they all like to say “it is not fair” 🙂
I love the premise of this app. It took me YEARS to understand that just because I was having a negative thought, it didn’t necessarily reflect my reality. I would love to win this, and will buy it if I don’t! 🙂
Like what you said. If you want to win the app, will you answer the question in your comment?
My son gets the most upset when he has expectations about a situation and they are not met, like expecting to get ice cream after soccer practice because we did that once, even though we have not discussed getting ice cream on this day.
We have an iPad.
Thanks, iGame Mom!
Having a right expectation can play a big role in setting the right mood. But it could be tough while working young kids on this.
My child’s most common trigger is when he is told “no”. He can really go into a rage. Also, he does not like to share or wait. I would love to win Positive Penguins to help him! We have an ipad. I enjoyed this article!
It is hard for them to take “no” for answers, but they have to learn that sometimes hearing “No” is good for them.
Thank you iGameMom for your review – really appreciate it, Meg and Sara