Little ones are learning to express themselves (their wants, needs, etc.), but they might not quite have the verbal skills to communicate their emotions effectively. Instead of speaking with words, children may use pointing, crying, screaming or even hitting to show how they are feeling. You can help your little ones learn to identify and calmly communicate their feelings and emotions at home and in everyday life by working through a feelings chart together.
Feel It Out
Encourage your child to feel. Do they have “butterflies” in their tummy (nervous)? Is their face feeling hot (angry)? Are they having a hard time controlling laughter (silly)? We feel our emotions in our bodies, and asking these questions is a great way to identify (and therefore communicate) the feelings that drive our actions. By showing your child they are safe to feel, you are helping them build their own sense of trust and confidence.
Draw It Out
Take it to the next step for children who are old enough to draw. Start by brainstorming with your child different emotions/feelings. Draw circles on a piece of paper, and let your child draw the faces/expressions that match those emotions. After you discuss each emotion, clearly write that feeling underneath the circle.
Some examples to try: Silly, curious, stressed, afraid, hungry, sad, tired, happy, nervous, confused, angry, frustrated, embarrassed, proud, worried, disgusted, excited.
Place the paper in an easy-to-see place so you can both reference it often. Now, each time your child is using non-verbal cues (crying, screaming, pointing), you can use this “feelings chart” to communicate with your child as they identify their emotion. Take it even further by asking your child if they need more than one face to express their emotion or feelings…maybe a new feeling needs to be added.
Act It Out
Bring emotions to life turning your feelings chart into a game by playing “feelings charades”—act out the feelings, and have your child guess what emotion you are expressing. Have your child try it too!
Encouraging your child to identify and communicate their feelings supports their social and emotional intelligence and helps them develop important life skills, like regulating their emotions and expressing their feelings.
Try making your own feelings chart at home. Have fun, snap pics and tag @bornreadymovement in your photos!