Today's blog post comes from Jill Lawson, our crisis and transitions counselor. How often does your family get together and play board games? At Palmetto Place, we get creative in using fun games to also teach life skills. And believe it or not, recognizing emotions and feelings is an important life skill. Here’s how we played Jenga yesterday.

The goal of the game is to keep the wooden tower standing while pulling out each block one by one. We modified the game by writing an emotion or "feeling word" on each block. When a resident on-so-carefully pulled a block out, he or she had to explain what that emotion was, how it looked (physical symptoms, etc.) and if they've ever experienced it. When a child has been neglected or abused they often have difficulty in identifying feelings--or they are only able to explain the basics such as mad, sad, or happy.


One of our teens pulled the word “burdened” and she shared that while she didn't know what it meant, her guardian had told her she was a burden and that made her feel sad because she knew it was a negative word.

Another teen said he was “hopeful” because he knew Palmetto Place would help him succeed in life and get to college.

Our 10 year old said she would never be “lonely” even though she has been in foster care for over 3 years because she would always have other foster kids to relate her feelings with and she would always have Jesus.

“Jealous”, “insecure”, and “uncomfortable” led us in to a conversation about healthy relationships. We wrapped up with “kindhearted” and discussed how everyone is fighting a battle of some sort and it’s important to always be compassionate. Our 9 year old added that we never know what someone has been through because each person’s situation is different and it’s important to show them love.

After over an hour of Jenga fun and conversation about feelings, the tower was still standing with only a few blocks left. The bottom block read “thankful” – I couldn’t be more thankful for having the privilege to work with these awesome kids each day. They teach me more than I could ever teach them about life!