Dad of Divas' Reviews: Heartmath - a Great Game for the Whole Family

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Heartmath - a Great Game for the Whole Family

About the Game
Getting kids to bed earlier and starting new routines in the transition from summer to a new school year often can cause turbulence for families. A projected 56 million K to 12th students are making that transition this fall in the United States, and nearly 20 percent of sixth to 12th-grade students have been off track academically, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. To help families start the school year on a positive note, the research and education organization known as the Institute of HeartMath® (IHM) suggests some tools families can practice to better handle stress and cope with the challenges of a new term. 

"If we can intervene right at the start of the school year to help children understand how to manage and change their emotions, it will help them learn resiliency in dealing with stress later in life," says behavioral psychologist Deborah Rozman, Ph.D., who serves on IHM’s scientific advisory board. "It’s just as critical for parents to learn basic emotional self-regulation tools to effectively set an example for children.

With nearly 20 years of researching the science of emotions, IHM has identified a physiological inner state called coherence, in which the heart, brain and nervous system are in sync, resulting in stress reduction, improved immune function and increased decision-making abilities. Although stressful situations such as putting rebellious children to bed earlier or helping kids adjust to more difficult homework and new surroundings often can be challenging, learning how to access inner coherence can help ease the process, Rozman said. An inner coherent state can be accessed with several research-based tools IHM has developed.
The Institute of HeartMath offers free tips and tools for parents and those who work with children on its HeartMath My Kids! Facebook page. The newest resource the institute is introducing for children is the Heartshift Tool, which is designed to aid their emotional development.

The HeartshiftTM Tool for ages seven to eleven:
This tool helps children calm down and think more clearly when things upset them. It can help children shift from a negative emotion to a positive one. Parents can teach children this tool using the following steps.

Step 1. Notice what you are feeling. Take a moment and ask yourself, "How am I feeling? Then say out loud what you are feeling.

Step 2. Shift to your heart. Put two fingers on your forehead and then move them from your head to your heart while saying, "Focus on the area of my heart."

Step 3. Breathe a feeling of calmness. Breathe slowly and easily. Imagine the air flowing in and out of your heart area. Take your time breathing in and out. Do this three to five times. What changes did you notice in your body? How do you feel now?

The institute also has a number of beneficial tools for parents and younger children that are available on its Web site at These tools use a similar format to help individuals shift to a coherent state.

The Quick Coherence® Technique for adults:
The heart is a primary generator of rhythm in the body, influencing brain processes that control the nervous system, cognitive function and emotion. The Quick Coherence Technique centers on the heart to access the conscious control of emotional states.

Step 1. Heart Focus: Focus your attention on the area around your heart, or the area in the center of your

Step 2. Heart Breathing: Breathe deeply but normally, and feel as if your breath is coming in and out through your heart area.

Step 3. Heart Feeling: As you maintain your Heart Focus and Heart Breathing, activate a positive feeling. Breathe this feeling in and out of your heart area.

A full guide and introduction of this technique is available at:

Shift and Shine® Technique for ages three to six:
Modeling positive emotions for children as young as three can help them begin learning emotion-management skills. Start this exercise by telling your child who you care about. Now ask your child who he or she cares about. Thinking about these positive feelings of care will lay a foundation as you guide your child through this technique using the following steps.

Step 1. Heart Attention: Begin by putting your attention on the area around your heart or the center of your chest.

Step 2. Heart Breathing: Now pretend to breathe in and out of your heart area. Take three slow breaths.

Step 3. Heart Feeling: Think of someone or something that makes you feel happy. Feel that happy feeling in your heart and then shine that feeling to someone or something special.

A full guide and introduction of this technique is available at:

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Wild Ride to the Heart
One of the latest and most exciting tools from IHM lets children learn emotion-management skills in a fun and creative way that families can practice together. With IHM’s new Wild Ride to the Heart™ board game, families are able to spend time together as the children learn and explore different emotional experiences.
Children can develop greater awareness of their emotions with Wild Ride and learn self-regulation. They have the opportunity to pause and actually understand a variety of emotional reactions, rather than simply experience the commotion they often cause in their daily lives and move on without confronting them. The game helps children develop emotional resilience and establish family connections through its simple and fun-to-play board-game format. The sharing experience of Wild Ride to the Heart helps everyone – parents, children and siblings – better understand and communicate about emotions in a fun, unique and low-cost way.

Wild Ride to the Heart
  1. Helps children begin to identify and understand their emotions.
  2. Helps children in their relationships with family and friends at home and school.
  3. Helps teach children emotion self-regulation to better control their moods.
  4. Brings family and friends closer.
"Big transitions like starting a new school year don’t always have to escalate into unnecessary stress," psychologist Rozman said. "Learning simple approaches to manage our emotions can help us create important habits that serve us well at school and for the rest of our lives."

More information on these back-to-school tools and techniques, and the Institute of HeartMath’s® scientifically validated stress solutions are available at For more information about the Wild Ride to the Heart™ board game, go to
The Institute of HeartMath,, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit research and education organization dedicated to teaching the principles of heart-based living around the world and promoting global coherence by inspiring people to connect with the intelligence and guidance of their hearts. IHM has been conducting scientific research on the physiology of emotions and the science of the heart for nearly two decades. IHM was founded in 1991 by Doc Childre, a world leader in stress reduction and emotion-management research. Through its research and education divisions, the institute has developed practical tools, educational programs and services – collectively known as the HeartMath System – for the mental, emotional and physical benefit of children through seniors without regard to their social, economic or cultural status. IHM research has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals such as

My Take on the Game
We are a family that enjoys board games, and many of the ones that we have are simply ones that could be construed as family fun. When I was asked to review the HeartMath game, one of the reasons that I really liked this game was that it helps families to talk about emotions and what emotions are all about.
When we tried out the game, I tended to find that it was not just a game about emotions, but also about math (thus the name), so it challenged kids to practice their addition and sometimes subtraction skills, while at the same time confronting players with situations where they must talk about experiences such as when they were angry and how it made them feel.
One of the best things about this game was the fact that it really was a game that made my family talk to one another. Seeing that there have been times in the past where I we have had to deal with emotional outbursts from our kids, I can see that this game is one that as they get older can really help them to vocalize and talk about how they are really feeling and dealing with their emotions in constructive ways instead of destructive ways.
I highly recommend this game to anyone with children who can comprehend counting and talking between each other about their emotions, it is a great game that you and your family will truly enjoy.

All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by the company.  Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Please refer to this site's Terms of Use  for more information. I have been compensated or given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.

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