Teaching Emotions

We have several books that teach children about emotions including:

The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
The Way I Feel 

Boo Hoo Bird by Jeremy Tankard

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss

Fisher Price PeekaBoo Baby - Faces & Feelings by Claire Kincaid

Fisher-Price: Peekaboo, Baby!: Faces & Feelings

We've checked out several others from the library as well, but PeekaBoo Baby remains Sweet P's favorite. I think Gammie actually bought it for Sprout, but Sweet P LOVES it! It talks about different feelings and emotions, and has large lift the flap pages. I'm pretty sure that's how Sweet P learned what it means to be sad!

Questions to ask about feelings/emotions while reading books:

  • How does he/she feel?
  • What made him/her feel that way?
  • How would that make you feel?
  • Why is he/she happy, sad, angry, jealous, etc?
Talk about the character's positive or negative behavior and other ways he/she could behave when feeling happy, sad, angry, jealous, etc?

We also have the Melissa & Doug's Dress Up Wooden Bear puzzle with changeable faces. It's a simple puzzle and a great way to teach common emotions and feelings (since sick and sleepy are two of the options). When Sweet P plays with it I like to ask her to make a surprised face, sick face, sad face, etc. This helps her identify with the feeling/emotion and then we talk about what makes us happy, sad, surprised, etc.

I recently read an article on How to Get Your Child to Listen by Dr. Victoria Samuel, which included how to listen to your child. The part that stuck out most to me was that "It’s crucial to accept feelings and resist the temptation to make things better by denying them (“hey, there’s no reason to be so upset”)."

Allowing our children to feel and accept the emotions they are experiencing is a vital part of learning. And I can't tell you how often I say "You don't have to be scared." or "There's nothing to be upset about." In their mind, there is! Helping your children identify the emotions they are feeling and the underlying reason for why they feel that way will help them in similar situations later. I also think hearing "It's okay to be scared" or "It's okay to be upset" can help them understand that expressing emotions of any kind is okay.

So many times our children feel an emotion they don't recognize and have a hard time expressing the issue behind it. Just last night Sweet P whined when I told her I was going to put Sprout to bed. She feels a twinge of jealousy each time I tell her I'm putting him to bed, but isn't sure how to express that feeling. It often results in a tantrum or whining. I often have a hard time ignoring whining, but that night I ignored it and said "I know you're going to miss me when I put Sprout to bed. I'll miss you too and I'll be out in just a little bit!" I can't say it worked like magic, but it did help.

How do you teach your children about emotions? What works best for you?

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