The last few days we’ve been playing mindful “grumpy tag” with my son Anton.

It’s a variation of another cool mindfulness activity called Emotion Detectives.

We’ve played it since he told me that I’ve been extra grumpy lately.

It’s true … the last few days have been emotional for me …

I’m self publishing my first ever book and it’s exciting and wonderful and a bit stressful, too.

Maybe I’m not as mindful as usual … publishing a book about mindfulness

that’s kind of funny :)

Anyway …

The game is simple … you simply tag the grumpy person!

So, for example …

when I tell my son to hurry up in a grumpy voice …

he tags me by saying GOTCHA victoriously.

I just got tagged!

We invented this game together … it’s fun and it teaches us to be mindful of emotions.

Anton notices my emotions without getting pulled into to the situation. Without mirroring or instantly reacting to my grumpiness.

And I get to apply my mindfulness skills … I remind myself to pause before I react.

I might pause and do a few mindful breaths ( see Take Five ) to cool down.

As we play this game we talk more about our emotions.

I get to catch grumpy Anton, too. And grumpy mommy.

We had so much fun today that we ended up playing happy tag instead!

Tagging each other when we noticed we were joyful.

You can play the game with any emotion you choose.

Okay, but here’s the original activity called Emotion Detectives …

it’s a similar activity from my book with 150+ playful mindfulness activities.

With Emotion Detectives you can learn to nurture

emotional intelligence,


and you can learn to make better choices in difficult situations.

Mindfulness Activities for Teens and Kids – Emotion Detectives

Purpose: Understanding emotions, Emotional intelligence
Best for: Ages 12+, groups or one-on-one
What you need: Nothing

Most of us have some amount of warning before we experience a big emotion. As we start to become better “emotion detectives,” we can recognize the warning signs of big emotions coming. When we notice emotions we can name the emotion we are experiencing to help take its power away. When we observe our inner life like this we can more readily prevent coming meltdowns.

Play emotion detectives with your child for a day or two. Tell your child that the next time she experiences a difficult emotion, she should try to name it. Sometimes it’s easy, at other times she might not notice it until after. She might get angry and say something she later wishes she didn’t.

Tell her to catch anger, anxiety, sadness or something more subtle and elusive like jealousy and boredom—and to name the emotion when she feels it. Tell her that paying attention to and naming the emotion can take its power away. In addition you can ask her to see if she can figure out what sensation goes with what emotion when she notices the emotion.

It might look like this:

“I’m anxious.”
“My stomach is tense.”

Ask her about her day and the feelings she noticed during that day, at dinner or before bedtime for the course of your game. Ask her if she was able to notice and name emotions, and if that changed her mood. Did it allow her to respond better? Did she feel like she had a choice to act more skillfully when someone or something pushed her buttons? Did it help her to stay cool?

Finally, tell her that when we feel ourselves becoming frustrated or overwhelmed, we can practice mindfulness (e.g. taking slow mindful breaths) to further calm our minds.

You can start with positive emotions if catching difficult emotions feels like a challenge at first.

You can find Emotion Detectives + 150 playful mindfulness activities in my book:

Ultimate Mindfulness Activity Book

– 150 Playful Mindfulness Activities for Kids and Teens (and Grown-Ups too!)

Wishing you many mindful moments :-)

Chris Bergstrom

Chief Mindfulness Ninja @ Blissful Kids

 #1 Best-Selling Author of:
★★★★★ Awesome “Bought this book for my 6 year old, but even my 3 and 15 yo love the activities. We usually incorporate activities on a daily basis and it’s been working so far.”
★★★★★ Cute and calming “With the craze being all about baby sharks, it’s a great idea to take it and use it to help our kids calm down themselves. I’m a therapist and look forward to using this with my kid clients.”

See also:

Stay Cool Game

5 Mindful Games

Take 5 Exercise

If you are new to mindfulness with children OR you want to make practice easy we recommend our online courses: Get notified here!

Chris Bergstrom is the co-founder of and a dad who is thrilled to practice mindfulness with his son. He is a certified mindfulness facilitator, and trained to teach mindfulness to students in K-12. He’s also an executive consultant, and has taught meditation for more than 10 years.