As a school psychologist and mom to three young children, I believe it is important to teach children to identify, express, and manage emotions in a healthy way. Social-emotional skills are important life skills, skills that help us to navigate our world, connect with others, and build life-long relationships.
But, in order to express and manage those emotions you must first be able to identify those emotions both in yourself and in others. It is helpful to talk about emotions often. This can be done through conversation, reading good books, watching and discussing movies, playing games, and by having emotional check-ins.
7 Tips to Help Children Identify Feelings
1. Have a movie night and watch Inside Out to get the conversation started!
We are huge fans of using movie night as part of our homeschool and Inside Out was, without a doubt, an educational experience for my trio. It sparked incredibly thoughtful conversation and deep insights. It also fueled creativity, as we made two games and a feelings chart based on the movie!
Play is the language of childhood. Children learn to navigate their worlds through play. After watching the movie, don’t be surprised to see your children replaying some of the scenes in their imaginative play. My children love using the Inside Out figures to act out scenes from the movie.
3. Identify emotions in self and others
Talk about different feelings with your child. See how many you can come up with and make a list. Talk about feelings synonyms too. If you’re having trouble, read some amazing books with your children. I’ve included some of our favorites at the end of this post!
4. Draw them!
You can turn the list that you’ve created into a feelings book with some paper, crayons, and some staples!
5. Act them out!
It can be helpful to have a mirror handy so that your child can see his or her emotional expression. Make up your own feelings charade, act out your favorite movie or book, or create your very own feelings game like our beloved Bing Bong Boogie!
6. Make a feelings chart
Do you know how crazy mornings can be? Why not divert all that energy by having a feelings check-in. Asking children to pause and reflect upon their emotions is a great way to build social-emotional skills and incorporate a little mindfulness into your morning routine. Today, I’m sharing how we made our very own feelings chart:
How to Make a Feelings Chart:
Construction paper in various colors
Laminator and laminating sheets
- On one piece of construction paper write Today I feel…
- On smaller squares, write an emotion and draw a corresponding face.
- Laminate the paper and emotion cut-outs.
- Put velcro on the back of the emotions and on the Today I feel… sign.
- Hang the feelings chart in a high-traffic area so that you remember to us it daily. We placed in our kitchen, below the calendar we use daily. We do our check-ins during breakfast and dinner.
- Each morning, do a check-in with your children! At the day’s end, talk about how feelings change during the day.
7. Take the learning to the next level with these feelings books
Here are some of our family’s favorite books about feelings. What are your favorites? Leave me a comment!
Now, it’s your turn. Tell me: How do you teach emotions at home? Share here!
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram
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