Identifying one’s feelings and emotions can be challenging for children, sometimes resulting in inappropriate reactions such as hitting or biting. The strategies below aim towards education and identification of common feelings to help provide the appropriate language to express one’s emotions.
1. Label your child’s feelings. As your child expresses a type of feeling, narrate what they are experiencing to help develop a stronger feelings vocabulary repertoire.
- If your child lost a soccer game, comment that it is normal to feel sad after losing a game.
- On the way to a movie or amusement park, describe that your child is feeling happy and excited.
2. Children’s literature. Identify and discuss the different feelings experienced by the characters in your child’s favorite story. Other books to teach feelings include:
- When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang
- The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
- Lots of Feelings by Shelley Rotner
- Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods that Make the Day by Jamie Lee Curtis
3. Feelings Sort. Create a fun card game by printing off a variety of facial expression pictures (anger, sad, happy, silly, surprised, scared). Before starting, discuss each type of feeling and imitate the different faces in front of a mirror. Scatter the pictures on the table for your child to divide into groups or create a game by assigning each person a feeling and seeing who can collect the matching pictures first!
4. Charades with feelings. Practice acting out feelings with a family-fun game of charades. Use the same picture cards from feeling sort game or this free feeling cube to determine which feeling to act out. The other members in the family get the chance to guess.
5. Movies and Youtube videos. Inside Out is an animated film highlighting the core feelings of joy, sadness, anger, fear, and disgust. It will soon become a family favorite! There are also kid-friendly videos on YouTube that can provide a visual representation of feelings. Some favorites include:
- Elf Feelings Video
- The Feelings Song
- If You’re Happy
Continue to discuss feelings with your children during experiences. Children will begin to associate innate feelings with expressed emotions. Once the child can identify their own emotions, they will begin to develop theory of mind to understand the feelings of others.
Chambers, Yanique. “9 Ways To Teach Children About Feelings.” Kiddie Matters, 14 Dec. 2017, www.kiddiematters.com/9-ways-to-teach-children-about-feelings/.
Katie. “4 feelings activities for kids.” Gift of Curiosity, 3 May 2017, www.giftofcuriosity.com/4-activities-for-teaching-kids-about-feelings/.