Emotions for Kids: Simple Tips to Teach Feelings

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Inside: Discover the best techniques for teaching feelings and emotions for kids: Engaging lessons, activities, and tips await! Explore our handpicked methods to help children understand and express their emotions.

Are you ready for an exciting journey into the colorful world of emotions and feelings?

Well, fasten your seatbelts because we’re about to embark on an adventure that will help nurture the emotional intelligence of our young children! 

You see, there’s a particular skill we can teach our kids that is just as important as reading or math. 

It’s all about self-awareness—teaching our kids to recognize their feelings and emotions and respond to them in the best way possible. 

And guess what? 

We have everything you need to make this learning experience fun and engaging! 

So, let’s dive in and discover the incredible superpowers of emotions together! 

Mindfulness activities for kids preview set.

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Because we all want our kids to be happy and healthy — not just for right now, but for the rest of their lives.

Why Teaching Kids About Feelings and Emotions is SO Important

Alright, let’s start by unraveling the mystery of feelings and emotions. 

We all have them, but what exactly are they?

Feelings are like tingles, butterflies, or warm fuzzies we get inside us. They’re the body’s way of telling us something.

On the other hand, emotions are how our mind reacts to those feelings. They can make us laugh, cry, or even jump for joy!

emotions for kids

Picture this: your adorable little angel is rolling on the floor in a fit of frustration because you said “no” to riding the dog. Or maybe your usually sweet student hurls crayons across the room because Johnny took their precious purple crayon.

Sound familiar?

Don’t worry; you’re not alone!

We’ve all witnessed these intense emotional outbursts from young kids. 

But here’s the thing: 

There is a better way to handle these situations, and we’re here to show you how.

Feelings Activities for Kids

Teaching your kids about emotional regulation is the key to helping them navigate their strong feelings in a healthier and more constructive manner.

Instead of just grinning and bearing it, you can empower your children to understand and manage their emotions effectively. By providing them with the tools and strategies to regulate their emotions, you’ll equip them with lifelong skills that will serve them well in various situations.

When children learn about emotional regulation, they gain the ability to recognize their emotions, understand what triggers them, and find appropriate ways to express and cope with their own feelings. 

They learn that it’s okay to feel angry, frustrated, or disappointed, but it’s how they choose to react that truly matters.

By teaching them strategies like deep breathing, counting to ten, or taking a break to calm down, you’re giving them a valuable toolbox to draw from when those big emotions come knocking.

Not only does teaching emotional regulation benefit your child, but it also creates a more peaceful and harmonious environment for the entire family or classroom.

Instead of constantly battling with tantrums and outbursts, you’ll be fostering a climate of emotional awareness and resilience.

You’ll be providing your child with a strong foundation for healthy relationships, effective problem-solving, and self-control.

So, take heart!

You have the power to guide your little ones through the rollercoaster of emotions they experience. And it all starts when we teach feelings to kids. We then support their overall well-being and set them up for success. 

teach feelings for kids

Strategies to Teach Kids About Feelings and Emotions (Get Ready for Fun!)

Now, let’s dive into some strategies to make teaching about feelings and emotions a blast! 

1. Creating a Safe and Supportive Environment

Encouraging open communication means making a safe space where kids can freely share their thoughts and feelings without being judged. 

It’s important because it helps children feel comfortable talking about their emotions and experiences. When kids know they can speak openly, it builds trust and makes them more likely to seek support when needed.

  • Start the day with a “morning meeting” where kids or students can share their thoughts and feelings. Use prompts like, “How are you feeling today?” or “What made you smile this morning?” 

2. Active listening and validation:

Active listening and validation mean paying attention when kids talk and letting them know their feelings are important and understood.

This strategy is crucial because it helps kids feel valued and heard. When adults listen and show that they understand, it creates a sense of connection and trust.

It also helps kids learn how to listen and validate others, an important skill for building relationships.

  • When a child expresses their emotions, actively listen to them without interrupting or judging. Show empathy by saying things like, “I understand that you feel frustrated. It’s okay to feel that way.”
  • During class discussions or group activities, allow each child or student to share their thoughts and feelings. Validate their contributions by saying things like, “Thank you for sharing. Your perspective is important.”

3. Help Kids Identify Different Emotions

Teaching emotional vocabulary means introducing kids to words that describe different feelings. I also like to start with the basic emotions first and expand from there.

(I love to use these feelings mats included in our social-emotional learning curriculum HeartSmart, or use a feelings chart or list.)

When you teach kids about emotions, it helps them understand and talk about their feelings better.

This strategy is helpful because it allows kids to express themselves and communicate their needs.

When kids can name their emotions, it helps them understand what they’re feeling and why. It takes the power of the big feeling away.

➡️Use feelings flashcards to introduce a variety of emotional words and their meanings to your child.

💡IDEAS TO USE:

  • Make a face – turn over a card, name the emotions listed, and have your child make the face that corresponds to the emotion flipped!
  • Emotional Charades: Take turns acting out the emotion presented.
  • Matching Game: Print two sets of cards and play a feelings-matching game.
  • Sorting: Sort the cards in positive versus negative emotions and discuss why. 
Feelings flashcards

➡️Playing games is a wonderful way to introduce concepts to young children. Feelings Bingo is always a hit. Read here for specific instructions.

Feelings Bingo

➡️Practice using feeling and emotion words in everyday conversations. I love flipping through books and magazines, pointing to different characters, and asking, “How do you think this person is feeling.”

➡️Use these emotion mats to practice learning about all the basic emotions. Versions for younger and older kids.

These are included in Unit 1 of our HeartSmart Social Emotional Learning Curriculum.

Teach feelings to kids

➡️Create an “Emotion of the Week” bulletin board where you feature a different emotion each week. (This is a fun classroom activity.)

Discuss the meaning of the emotion, share examples, and encourage students to use the word in their writing or discussions. 

HeartSmart Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum

I just love the HeartSmart Social Emotional Learning Curriculum. Emotions are just one unit in this six-unit year-long bundle. If you want to improve your child’s emotional health, this is all you need. This unit includes lesson plans, book lists, feelings charades, feeling faces, printable emotions cards, feelings wheels, feelings lists, feelings games, and SO much more!

3. Utilizing visual aids and books

Using pictures and books that show different emotions helps kids recognize and understand feelings. This strategy is great because it provides examples that kids can relate to and helps them see how emotions can be expressed through facial expressions and body language.

Visual aids and books make learning about emotions fun and interesting.

➡️Use picture books or online resources that depict various emotions. Look at the facial expressions and body language of the characters to identify and discuss different emotions. Some of my favorite feelings books include:

4. Teaching coping strategies and self-management

Teaching coping mechanisms and problem-solving skills means showing kids different ways to handle difficult emotions and solve problems.

It helps kids learn how to manage their feelings in a healthy way. This strategy is valuable because it gives kids tools to deal with challenges and helps them become more resilient.

When kids know how to cope with their emotions, it makes them feel more confident and in control.

➡️Teach relaxation skills:  Help your child identify healthy coping mechanisms, such as deep breathing, listening to calming music, drawing, or going for a walk.

I just love these breathing boards. You can get them here.

➡️Help kids create a plan for when big feelings strike.

Help kids recognize that they have a choice in how they react to big feelings, and help them create a calm-down plan to use.

Breathing Exercises for Kids - emotions for kids
calm down corner

➡️”I Feel” Statements: These are so important to help kids express their feelings appropriately.

Instead of just throwing insults back and forth, this can turn, “You jerk, you stole my toy,” into, “I feel upset when you take my toy without asking. Can we share and take turns?”

teachings kids emotions

➡️Use reflective exercises like journaling,  group discussions, or role-playing scenarios.

You might love these breathing cards; I mean, who doesn’t want to breathe like a snail? We love to utilize mindfulness techniques, like the body scan meditation and learning how to create a plan of action for when big feelings strike.

breathing cards

5. Promoting Emotional Expression and Regulation

Having reflective conversations means talking with kids about their feelings and experiences in a thoughtful way.

By asking questions and encouraging them to think about their emotions, it helps them understand themselves better.

This strategy is important because it helps kids learn how to manage their emotions and make good choices.

Reflective conversations allow kids to think about why they feel a certain way and find healthy ways to deal with their emotions.

  • Ask questions: Engage in reflective conversations with your child after challenging situations or conflicts. Ask questions like, “How did that situation make you feel?” or “What could you have done differently?”
  • Hold regular class or home meetings where kids and students can reflect on their experiences and emotions. Ask open-ended questions like, “What made you feel proud this week?” or “How did you handle a difficult situation?”

6. Fostering Empathy and Perspective-Taking

Practicing empathy means putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes and understanding how they might be feeling.

It involves using stories or acting out scenarios to understand the emotions of others. This strategy is great because it helps kids develop compassion and understanding.

By pretending to be someone else, kids can learn to relate to other people’s feelings and build stronger connections.

  • Read social stories: Discuss how characters might feel in different situations and encourage your child to imagine themselves in those scenarios.
social stories for kids
  • Use role-playing flashcards and act out different scenarios to help kids step into the shoes of others and see how they might be feeling.

7. Focusing on the Positive

One of my favorite parts of teaching feelings to kids is focusing on the positive aspects. It’s like diving into a colorful ocean of feel-good feelings! 

Now, that doesn’t mean we ignore negative emotions.

Those feelings are a normal part of life. But we can train a developing brain to see the good so that our default reaction becomes one of positivity.

By emphasizing the positive, we help our children build resilience and optimism.

Even in challenging situations, they learn to find glimmers of hope and sources of strength.

This positive mindset becomes their trusty tool for overcoming obstacles and approaching life with unwavering determination.

printable positive affirmations

Facing Challenges and Difficult Emotions (We’ve Got Their Backs!)

Life isn’t always a walk in the park.

Sometimes, it throws us some tough challenges and difficult emotions. (Especially for young kids!)

But fear not. Our training has prepared us for this! 

When our kids encounter anger, frustration, or disappointment, we’ll be their sidekicks, providing them with a safe space to express those emotions.

Together, we’ll discover incredible ways to manage them and turn them into positive forces!

Collaborating with Schools and Educators (We’re a Team!)

Collaborating with schools and educators is like forming an unbeatable team!

When parents and teachers join forces, we have the power to make a real impact on our little ones’ emotional well-being. One key ingredient to this successful collaboration is regular communication and sharing insights and observations about our children’s emotional awareness.

By keeping the lines of communication open, we can better understand our children’s unique needs and brainstorm positive ways to provide the support they require.

We can discuss any challenges or concerns we may have and work collaboratively to find solutions. This regular communication allows us to align our efforts, ensuring a consistent and supportive approach both at home and in the classroom.

Remember, we are all on the same team, working towards the common goal of nurturing our children’s social skills.

So, let’s communicate regularly, share our insights, and support each other in this incredible journey.

Together, we can create an environment that fosters emotional awareness, expression, and growth for our little ones.

Resources for Teaching Feelings in Kids

My three favorite emotional regulation resources for kids are listed below!

➡️HeartSmart Social Emotional Learning Curriculum is our full-year social-emotional bundle that gives you everything you need to teach all aspects of social-emotional learning.

Six units of daily social-emotional learning activities. Enough to last you the entire year!

Heartsmart Curriculum bundle set.

You can buy each item individually (buy the entire program for a 63% discount!).

➡️Mega Emotions Super Bundle is for those of you who want to focus on anger and anxiety; this bundle is amazing. It gives you everything you need to help kids feel better when they are worried or upset.

Mega Emotions bundle set.

➡️Calm Down Corner Kit will create a peaceful space in your home or classroom where kids can go to calm down. This space is free from shame or blame and supports the emotional health of our kids!

Final Thoughts: Emotions For Kids

In a world full of feelings and emotions, we have the incredible opportunity (and a simple way) to shape our children’s emotional intelligence and well-being. 

By creating a safe and supportive environment, helping them identify and label their emotions, promoting healthy expression and regulation, and nurturing empathy and perspective-taking, we unlock the power within them.

These strategies become our secret weapons, empowering our children to face life’s challenges with resilience and compassion.

Remember, teaching kids about feelings is not a one-time event. It’s an ongoing journey filled with laughter, tears, and countless aha moments.

So, let’s grab our capes of understanding and soar into a future where our children thrive emotionally!

Together, we’re building a world where emotions are celebrated, understood, and embraced. 

feelings activities for kids

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