Do you ever get upset when you can’t figure out how you are feeling? Children experience this same kind of frustration. The difference is that children typically do not have the cognitive ability or the emotional capacity to self-discover. This is why it is vitally important to teach children the various emotions they may be experiencing and have open discussion of when and why they have these feelings.
A great way to engage children in learning about their emotions is to have a sheet with squares on it. In each square is an emotion. Then place the child’s favorite candy or treat on each square. You, as the parent or caregiver, also have a sheet with the item on each square. You each take turns picking a square and sharing a time you felt that emotion. You explain what happened and how you handled it and perhaps how you wish you had handled it differently. Once you or your child share you may have the treat placed on the shared block.
Now each age will have a different number of squares. I like to have the number of squares be comparable to the child’s age number (ie. a 6 year old can have 6 squares). As with numbers each age will have a different level of emotions. The purpose is to increase, challenge and create awareness of the child’s emotions.
Below is a small example of an emotional chart to use with your child. You can create your own chart simply by hand, using Microsoft word or even having a laminated cart with empty boxes and filling them in with marker when you want to play.
Remember, when you share make your examples age appropriate and relatable. Also, this is not a time to scold or minimize a child’s feelings. Allow your child to share and either comfort or celebrate with your child. Below is a list of feelings that you can pull from to create your own unique chart.
Afraid, Anxious, Apologetic, Ashamed, Bitter, Bored, Calm, Challenged, Confused, Content, Depressed, Disappointed, Disgusted, Elated, Enraged, Embarrassed, Enthusiastic, Excited, Fearful, Hurt, Frustrated, Grateful, Grief-stricken, Guilty, Happy, Hopeful, Hostile, Insecure, Intimidated, Sad, Irritated, Jealous, Joyful, Lonely, Loved, Nervous, Misunderstood, Regretful, Tired, Relieved, Rejected, Resentful, Satisfied, Scared, Secure, Significant, Sympathetic, Tense, Thrilled, Unappreciated, Unimportant, Unloved, Used, Valued, Violated, Vulnerable, Worried, and/or Wounded…
Have fun creating your chart and expanding your child’s emotional vocabulary.