It can be difficult for children to understand and express their feelings. Parents and caregivers play a huge role in helping kids learn how to talk about their emotions.

From the earliest months, babies have the ability to feel a range of emotions, such as happiness, sadness, anger, and fear. When your child enters toddlerhood, you can help your child make sense of this variety of feelings by naming the feeling for her.  Some examples include: “You are really sad.  You don’t like when mom has to leave.”  “You are so excited to see your friends!” “You are angry that you didn’t get your toy.”  Naming feelings for your child begins to help her recognize and cope with her experiences.

Parents/caregivers can also sing songs to help children learn about feelings. For example, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!”  The words can be changed to reflect other feelings like, “If you’re mad and you know it, stomp your feet!” “If you’re frustrated and you know it, take a breath!”

You can teach about emotions while playing.

  • Make different feelings faces with Play Doh, on the sidewalk with chalk, on a paper plate, or in the mirror with each other.
  • You can print pictures of feelings faces from the Internet, put them on your fridge, on popsicle sticks, or on a piece of paper for your child to color.
  • Print or cut out from a magazine several different pictures of happy, sad, and mad, then have your child sort them into three piles.
  • Blow up some balloons, draw feelings faces on them, then toss them back and forth and talk about the feeling.
  • Create a feelings book for your child – take pictures of her making different faces and put the pictures in a little photo album.

Books are also a fun way to teach your child about emotions. Here are some great web sites that offer age appropriate books about feelings:

Zero to Three: http://www.zerotothree.org/child-development/social-emotional-development/books-that-support-social-emotional-skills.html

CSEFEL: http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/documents/booklist.pdf

You can also find more information about how to help your child identify and express her emotions in this article:   http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/familytools/teaching_emotions.pdf

Naming feelings is a very important part of your child’s social and emotional development. She may experience many different emotions throughout the day, and you can help her manage all the confusing and overwhelming feelings by naming what she is going through.

By, Sarehl Lomme