Expressing Emotions


It can be very difficult to express emotions and feelings for anyone especially children. It is very important for everyone to learn a good method that fits them best to help them express their emotions. It is also crucial to learn how to calm down appropriately.

I have been researching a lot lately to find great ways to teach children about their emotions and how to calm down. I like to teach these things in a fun and interesting way so children retain the information and use it often after because learning how to express yourself and learning ways to calm down is a life skill.

There are so many reasons why children can get frustrated as adults. We need to try to help children and find ways not only to express themselves but to find ways to avoid them getting frustrated and upset in the first place.

It is important to talk about emotions and try to explain to children what emotions are, and this can get extremely difficult. I like to use visuals to help. You can make your own or find some online. Have a discussion with your child about what each emotion means to you and to your child and give examples for each one as well. I feel happy when I am spending time with you when we play a board game; then let your child have a turn to say one thing that makes them feel happy. Also try to find a definition of what happy means. For example, you could define happy as doing tasks that bring enjoyment or a smile to your face. Or, that warm feeling you get when you’re greeted by your dog when you arrive home and see them wagging their tail. Talk about every emotion and give examples even the hard ones like frustrated or sad. Children need to get a really good understanding so they can communicate how they feel and explain why they may be feeling that way.

  • TIP – you can make your own DIY laminated paper. This helped me a lot for one of my students. I found self- Adhesive laminating sheets at my local dollar store but what you could also do is take clear sheet protectors and tape the top. All you need to do is slip your paper in and use a dry erase marker. This is good because kids get to be hands on and you don’t need to waste so much paper.

I like to use the above tip to print out different faces with different emotions on it, that way if your kids can’t get the words out to express themselves they can circle the emotion they are feeling. Another great way to encourage kids to understand and express themselves is to create a calm kit. In mine I put “How do I feel cards?” (this will have multiple emotions on it that someone could have), a What will make me feel better template, a check in template and a self -reflect sheet; it will also include something that he/she can squeeze like play-doe. I also made “I need a break” card and a take 5 breaths card. Some of the templates are down below. I like to tailor all these materials to what the child likes; in this case it was Lego.

Use fun games to break the ice in order to talk about emotions. One of my particular favourites is called the colour feeling game. You can play this in multiple ways; my two favourites are to play it with candy ie, M &M’s or you can play it with Legos; that worked awesome for one of my studies because you get to build something.

What you need: Legos of different colours or M&M’s; you need at least 10 of each thing in multiple colours

How to play: take turns with your kids picking up different coloured things and match an emotion to them ie. For every red candy or Lego say something that makes you feel happy and give an example, I feel happy when I pet my dog. Then have your child take a turn picking up a coloured thing and matching a feeling to it as well as explaining why. As a parent, you will learn a lot and it will be fun for your kids. A link of a great blog I found this idea on will be linked here.

Encourage your child to open up to you. A great thing to do is ask your child at least twice a day how they are feeling once in the morning and once at night. If you can you can even ask more. It’s so important they understand when they need to talk to you and not have word vomit right before sleep or at another inappropriate time. I am actually not amazing with this either sometimes but I find if I start talking out my feelings at night just before sleep I can’t sleep and I feel stressed when I wake up and it then becomes a terrible pattern of me feeling not well rested and in a terrible mood for later days to come.

Lastly talk to your kids about consequences if they do inappropriate behaviour. For example, if you hit you will get less free time watching tv. Always follow through with your consequence and explain why they are getting it. After go over a self-reflect sheet with your child a template is below. This will help both you and your child.

Try to be as patient with your child. Feelings are complicated and it can take a while for them to understand and be able to express themselves. I know that I am still learning.

The Feelings Activity: