When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion. -Dale Carnegie
Teaching kids about emotions can be an overwhelming task for any parent or teacher. It isn’t easy to explain how it feels to be frustrated, excited, or worried. Ideally, we want to begin teaching emotional literacy as early as possible because emotions are at the core of human experience and affect every aspect of our lives.
Below are 10 ways to make emotional learning less intimidating and more fun for kids:
1) Name that Feeling
The first step in teaching kids about emotions is to give them adequate vocabulary to label their feelings. Make a generous list of feelings words and explain the meaning of each. Then, use photographs of people in different situations and ask your child to describe what the person feels.
2) Emotion Scavenger Hunt
Take your child to a public place and do a scavenger hunt with their feelings list. Have them people watch and ask them to try and find a person experiencing each of the emotions on their list.
3) Feelings Charades
Feelings Charades is just like traditional charades but with emotions. This game is best played with groups of children. Each child draws a feeling card and acts out that emotion and lets the other children guess what it is.
4) How Would You Feel?
Make cards with different events and experiences on them and have your child tell you how he would feel if he was in each of the situations. This game also works well with groups as it helps kids recognize that not everyone feels the same and that people respond to events differently.
5) Watch Inside Out and Make Your Own Emotion Characters
Inside Out is a great movie to teach children about emotions. After watching the film, invite your kids to come up with characters for their own feelings. They can draw the characters and write their own story or make puppets and do a puppet show. The possibilities are endless.
6) Books, Films, and Storytelling
You can use virtually any book, film, or fable to teach emotional literacy. Emotions are central to human life and intrinsic to our stories. After reading a book or watching a movie, have a conversation with your child and ask questions like “How do you think _____ felt when ______?” or “Did anyone in this story get angry? How did he handle his emotion?”
7) Pretend Play
Kids learn best through play. Get out the barbies or action figures and act out scenarios to teach different emotions and healthy coping skills.
Color evokes emotion. In art therapy, each core emotion is represented by a color. After teaching your child about feelings, ask him what color he associates with a particular emotion. Consider exploring these associations by doing an art project together or making a colored feelings chart to hang on the wall.
Play a variety of different sounds for your child and ask him how he feels when hearing each sound. Use music to show your child the difference between angry, sad, and happy songs. Consider using a musical instrument to teach about tone and relate that to your child’s tone of voice when experiencing and expressing particular emotions.
10) Board Games
As a child therapist I’ve learned that with a bit of creativity, you can turn virtually any card or board game into a feelings game. For games like Uno or Mancala that incorporate color, you can have the child talk about a different feeling every time he changes the color in Uno or gains a marble of that color in Mancala.
For games like Checkers or Chess, you can use feelings cards and have the child draw a feeling card each time he loses a piece. There are many ways to use the feelings cards. You can have the child share a time he felt that particular emotion, explain where he feels that emotion in his body, or come up with a coping skill he can use to help him feel better if it’s an uncomfortable feeling like anger or nervousness.
—What are your favorite ways to teach kids about feelings? Comment below and share your ideas with us.