Our team loves when multiple family members play Mightier. There's an element of family play that helps promote emotion regulation learning. There's also an element of management, of course, as sharing and taking turns can be challenging for lots of kids. First, let's walk through the benefits of family play, followed by some recommendations from our Program Specialists as well as other Mightier families as to how to manage turn taking and sharing around Mightier.
The learning benefits
Building a family culture of emotional awareness. When more than one person in the house is playing Mightier, it normalizes the process of thinking and talking about emotions and heart rate. This is great, as oftentimes kids can have a really difficult time if they feel singled out or if they feel as if they're playing Mightier because they need to “fix” something problematic. The reality is that all of us can struggle with emotional awareness and regulation at times. This is a skill that everyone can benefit from, so getting the whole family playing Mightier is a great way to start to build this family culture.
A common language. Mightier uses some pretty specific words and phrases to connect game features to emotional awareness. The red zone means your heart rate is elevated, which could mean you're feeling anxious, frustrated, or excited. The blue zone means your heart rate is at its baseline, which usually means you feel calm and relaxed. When the lavalings come out, it's the signal that your heart rate went up into the red zone - your cue that things are starting to get heated or out of control. When you cool and collect a lavaling, though, that's the reward for being aware of your heart rate and successfully bringing it down - a huge accomplishment! When multiple people in the house play Mightier, it allows for an easy and natural translation of these phrases out of the game and into daily life. For many kids, talking about zones and lavalings might be a bit easier and more comfortable than directly identifying and naming their emotions.
Feelings of recognition. How awesome is it when someone cheers you on and admires something you're good at or are working hard to achieve? Feeling recognized for your efforts and successes is a huge confidence boost, and helps children develop their self-esteem. Watching your child play Mightier, and admiring their awareness and skill around heart rate control, is a great way to help them realize that they're good at it. Another benefit is that feeling confident and competent in any skill increases the likelihood of utilizing that skill outside of your comfort zone and in real life situations.
A View into Your Child's World. Many caregivers who have played Mightier for themselves comment on how surprised they were by the experience. Phrases like, "I didn't know how often my heart rate goes up!" and, "It's way more difficult than I expected to bring my heart rate down!" are pretty common. Playing Mightier is another way for caregivers to develop a deeper understanding of what their child is feeling internally and create some empathy for their child’s emotional experiences.
Kids as the experts. More often than not, children are playing Mightier because emotion regulation is difficult for them. This means that this is an area they likely do not feel very confident in, which can impact their self-esteem. Caregivers can help strengthen their children's feelings of competence in this area by letting them be the experts. Let them take the lead and teach you or someone else how to play Mightier. Let them show off their skills. Ask them questions as to how they know their heart rate is going up, and the best way to bring it back to blue. Giving kids the chance to shine in this area is a great way to strengthen their confidence.
Self-care. Mightier is a tool that parents can take advantage of themselves to bring their own heart rates down and manage stress. Not only can the practice of the calming strategies help to strengthen and build your own emotional regulation, but the games themselves are fun! Infusing a few minutes of fun and intentional calming into your day or week is a great way to take care of yourself.