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UnderStanding & EXPRESSING Emotions Part 1

As children’s language develops, so does their awareness of emotions they may feel themselves and see in others. However, it can sometimes be hard for kids to express their feelings. Learning to express and manage emotions is an important skill that we call “emotional regulation.”  Research tells us that the ability to regulate our emotions is paired with making friends, better mental health and the ability to deal with stress, so we definitely want to help our kids learn skills that will foster emotional regulation. The first step to emotional regulation is understanding our emotions, so let’s start there (next month we will learn about expressing our emotions in Part 2). Below are some resources for teaching children about the various emotions we may feel.

START HERE: For a good overview of how to help your child learn to express emotions, see this article from Penn State.  

BOOKS are great ways for children to learn about emotions. Below are some of our favorites that cover a variety of emotions:

The Way I Feel by Janan Cain

Feelings by Aliki

The Feelings Book by Todd Parr

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss 

Today I feel Silly: And Other Moods that Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis

ACTIVITES:

Below are some activities that you can pair with the books above.

Emotional Eggs:  Make faces on plastic easter eggs that express various emotions and talk to your kids about each emotion as you make the eggs.  For example, as you make a sad egg, you can say “How does our face look when we feel sad? Does our face smile or frown? How do we draw a frown?”  See this video for one example that uses markers. The picture below shows another variation of the activity using stickers instead of markers.  

Image by Pixabay Anncapictures

Emotional Charades:  Take turns acting out various emotions while others guess the emotion.  Children’s Play in Action has a short video giving instructions for and describing the value of this game.

VIDEOS:

Inside Out: Guessing the Feelings is a video of short clips from Inside out where you can watch each clip with your child and then guess the feeling being expressed.  At the end of each clip, it will stop and tell you the feeling as well.

PBS Kids Talk About Feelings and Emotions is a video in which children and parents describe feelings and why it’s important to express them. 

Sesame Street: Name that Emotion! Is a fun Sesame Street in which Murray has his friends guess the emotions of contestants.  

Emotions StoryBot Song by Netflix Jr. is a fun song about emotions. 

Next month we will provide additional books and activities about how to handle specific emotions in Part 2 of this Emotion Series. 

Tags: 

Social-Emotional Development

Grade Levels: Preschool through Primary

Age Levels: 

  • Pre-K 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)

Developer:

Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 04/28/2021

By Karena Rush

Hi Everyone! Welcome to our site! My name is Karena and I am a child clinical psychologist with a background in school psychology, education, and early childhood risk and prevention. I have worked in schools, hospitals, and community outreach settings with kids with all levels of abilities devoting most of my time to children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. One of my passions is helping parents and teachers identify fun activities that can help build developmental and academic skills (aka- learning while playing!!). In fact, I have had the opportunity to work with toy developers and companies from around the world in developing and identifying toys that enhance learning. Outside of work, I love to travel and spend time outdoors with my two daughters and husband. I am so excited that you are visiting our site and hope you find our activities as fun as we do!

- A.B. Psychology, Bryn Mawr College
- M.Ed. Early Childhood Risk and Prevention, Harvard University
- M.S. Psychology, Louisiana State University
- Ph.D. Psychology: Child Clinical, Louisiana State University
- Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Kennedy Krieger Institute

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