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Helping tykes get a handle on their emotions

January 17, 2008|Kavita Daswani

Almost every parent has been there: cringing as their toddler has a full-on meltdown in the grocery store. And almost every parent will wonder if he or she handled the situation correctly -- and what could be done differently next time.

Tender Tykes, a new series of classes at the 3-month-old CosmiKids indoor play and birthday party space in Tarzana, is designed to give parents the skills they need when their children are feeling fragile and give kids the ability to talk about it.

Sandie Sedgbeer, a consultant to CosmiKids who developed the Tender Tykes program, says the classes go deeper than the usual offerings of music and exercise available to children.

"We become parents and there's no instruction book," says Sedgbeer. CosmiKids "thought there really needed to be something that helped children learn emotional language and taught parents how to communicate with their kids."

The classes, which will run once a week starting Tuesday, are designed to introduce children ages 2 to 4 to a whole gamut of normal human emotions in a playful and accessible way.

The 45-minute sessions start and end with "circle time," where kids say their names and sing a hello or goodbye song. In between, puppets, games, activities and a series of Feeling Faces cards teach children how to identify emotions like anger, anxiety, shyness and jealousy.

"This can give children a head start in mastering frustration and building social skills," says Sedgbeer. "It's very important for kids to learn how to name their feelings, to begin to learn how to check in with themselves."

Sedgbeer says she was motivated to create the program after seeing similar ones in Europe, like the British SEAL -- Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning -- which teaches social, emotional and behavioral skills in addition to sports and academics.

The Tender Tykes program fits within the CosmiKids philosophy: There are no jumping castles, nights with Elmo or nursery rhymes blaring from loudspeakers. Instead, the Roads to Riches station offers a large treasure chest filled with gold coins, feathers, sequins and jewels to use in art projects.

In another corner, kids can paint rocks or string beads, and small tents give little ones a perfect place to play instruments, experiment with magnets and smell scented pillows.

"Our mission is to educate the hearts of America's children," says CosmiKids owner Judy Julin, who will be opening a second space in El Segundo in a few months. "Tender Tykes upholds that vision of empowerment through play and enlightened human potential."




WHERE: CosmiKids, 18555 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana

WHEN: 10:30-11:15 a.m. Tuesdays

PRICE: $14.50 per class

INFO: (818) 996-5437;

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