The interactive game aims to facilitate and foster mental and emotional health while encouraging children to think for themselves and create solutions to their problems.
On 17 March 2021 The LightHouse Arabia launches SmartHeart® V2.0, a revolutionary board game developed by psychologists to cultivate emotional intelligence in children. The board game launches with the sole purpose and aim to change the way many children express themselves and interact with others. The interactive game, which makes use of picture and word cards that assist children in identifying and communicating their feelings, aims to facilitate and foster mental and emotional health while encouraging children to think for themselves and create solutions to their problems. The game is available for purchase at The LightHouse Arabia clinic, located in Dubai,
“Children express themselves through play and SmartHeart® gives them the platform to do so,” explains SmartHeart® creator Christine Kritzas, a counselling psychologist at The LightHouse Arabia.
Dr Saliha Afridi, co-creator, clinical psychologist and Managing Director at The LightHouse Arabia adds, “SmartHeart® gives a window into a child’s world. This allows parents and educators to be a present witness to a child’s experiences and bond deeply with these children,” emphasising that the game is not only a tool for parents but occupational therapists, speech therapists, paediatricians, counsellors and other professionals dealing with children.
In looking for new ways to interact with children in the therapeutic space, the two psychologists developed a game for children between the ages of 4 and 11 that allows them to confront serious issues playfully, creating a safe environment where they’re comfortable to speak about things that happen on the playground, in the classroom, with friends and at home. SmartHeart® V2.0 of the board game caters to the experiences of third culture kids in that the content is culturally-sensitive and relatable across all religions, races and traditions. Moreover, it helps normalize such experiences such as divorce, grief, fears, friendship, and sibling rivalry which are universally common amongst children and families.
“Society places such emphasis on intellectual and physical development, putting pressure on children to score A-grades and make the first team in sports, but sometimes parents and teachers miss the importance of cultivating emotional intelligence in kids. A child could possess the ability to score high grades and make the first team but could fail to reach these achievements when his or her emotional maturity is not at the level that it should be. Emotional intelligence can be taught to individuals across the lifespan, and children can cultivate empathy and social skills over time,” says Kritzas.
Testimonials endorsing the game are constantly being fed back to the creators – like a single father discovering, through playing SmartHeart® that his son is scared of heights and lonely at break time. “We’ve given single parents, mothers and fathers a tool with which to engage with their child, while spending quality time together, chatting and enquiring about the child’s day without the child realising how much he’s disclosing,” said Dr Afridi. “If a problem is identified through playing the game, a parent or child can initiate a brainstorming session where they can think of creative solutions to the problem. Such knowledge empowers parents, and allows them to approach a professional for assistance, notify a teacher, and move forward using the information in the best interest of their child.”