Fun ways to teach emotions to kids
Should we teach our kids emotions? Why not? Instead of letting our kids emote incidentally, we can intentionally help them to express their honest emotions in a healthy way without feeling repressed or suppressed.
Every child deserves to be understood and heard by their parents. For this to happen, they need to be able to convey their emotions and thoughts appropriately.
Besides verbal expression, there can be other ways for kids to express themselves. Young children often do not have the vocabulary to talk about their feelings so we can start by deliberately teaching them to recognise their own emotions and why they feel that way.
Don't want to sound so serious? Here are some interesting ways that might be helpful:
#1 Play Guess the Face
This is the simplest activity I often play with my kid. Since he’s only a toddler, I often ask him to guess what kind of face I am showing him, whether it is a happy, sad, angry or tired face. Once he’s able to guess correctly, usually I will tell him what makes me feel this way e.g. “Bringing you to playground makes me happy” or “I feel sad when you’re sick”.
When it is his turn to make a face, I’ll ask him what makes him feel that way. If he can’t articulate well, try asking a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question instead. Don’t forget to add these facial expressions and emotions whenever you’re reading a book to your child.
#2 Match the emotions
You can focus on several emotions and print pictures of facial expressions representing these emotions from the web. Jumble up these cards and ask your kids to match the facial expression to the emotions. Soon your kids will be able to see the similarities in these faces when they feel a particular emotion.
This will help your child to identify the emotions in others as well as themselves. You can ask your child, “Does mummy or daddy look like that when we are angry?” or “How do you feel when mummy or daddy is angry?” This will open up opportunities to teach them how to deal with certain emotions.
More fun ways up ahead. Click next!
#3 Superheroes with emotions
Even LEGO® building blocks can be utilized to teach emotions especially the Super Heroes edition. This might be suited more for boys who may not want to talk much about emotions but prefer to role play using the super heroes instead.
Things you can ask, “What would you do if you saw your friend hit another friend in school? What would Spider Man do?” They can role play a similar situation and you can see how your child responds.
Image Credit: Lewis Tse Pui Lung
#4 Facial jigsaw
Take pictures of your kid’s face when they are happy, sad, angry, tired, crying and scared. Whichever is easier to capture. Enlarge the face and print it out in A4 size preferably in colour. Cut out the eyes, mouth and nose but keep the face. Ask them to put these parts together to form a certain type of emotion.
Remember to talk about the emotions they have created, how they act and what made them feel that way. Add in more fun by asking them to create new expressions with different eyes, mouth and nose.
#5 Eggy emoticons
Get some plastic eggs that can break into half from some art or party supply shops and draw a variety of emotions on each egg using a permanent marker. Draw the eyes on the top half and mouth on the bottom half of the egg. You can refer to the emoticons from the web or hand phone for ideas on how to draw.
These eggs can be used for role play (e.g. how each egg is feeling and why) and mix-and-match the top and bottom half to create a variety of interesting emotions.
#6 Free apps!
Last but not least, apps for the tech savvy kid. Use these apps as tools to further your conversations with them.
Three recommended apps:
- Feel Electric! By Sesame Street (for iOS and Android)
For older kids. Features three fast-paced games, a digital diary to record daily moods and introduces at least 50 emotion words and definitions.
- Touch and Learn – Emotions by Innovative Mobile Apps (for iOS)
Helps kids read body language and understand emotions by looking at facial expressions of other kids. There are at least 25 different emotions and you’re able to customize the pictures, emotions and game sounds.
- Emotions, Feelings and Colors! Fun educational games for kids in Preschool and Kindergarten by iLearn With by Tribal Nova (for iOS)
Kids have to identify the appropriate emotion expressed through the cartoon characters in short animated stories that they can relate to.
Share with us more ways to teach your kids emotions below!