7 Ways To Teach Emotions To Kids

Mia: Please don’t make your eyebrows meet, Mommy. Don’t be an upset mother Mommy…

This was after I caught her skipping the soap (for the 3rd time) during hand washing. I knew for sure that she would immediately suck her dirty thumb afterwards, so I stood by the bathroom door looking as upset as I could be.

Mia: Smile now Mommy. Be happy..

(long pause)

Mommy… are you still mad?

Me: No.

Mia: You’re just upset?

Me: Yes.

Mia: I’m sorry Mommy. I promise not to do it again.. Be happy now..

(long pause)

Mia: Be happy, please?

Me: Please wash your hands again.

I can’t say our efforts have successfully taught every emotion there is yet, but we did have a few successes.

In this instance, for example, I only answered Yes and No but I think I may have nailed two things in there: 1) She read my facial expressions and 2) she used the word ‘please’ when she didn’t get the happy face she wanted.

This is certainly a work in progress and we still have a long way to go!

Do you stop to show how you feel when your children display negative behavior against you? Do you mimic real-life reactions when they’re acting mean and rude?

I understand that this may be quite hard to do when you are trying to make the most out of your quality time. The short window between the time you arrive home and their nearing bedtime might be your only time together and you naturally don’t want to spend it with a heavy heart.

However, we also cannot just brush it off, right? Letting it slip often might send the wrong message that hurting others is no big deal. Sure, kids their age won’t hold grudges against each other or take revenge for that matter, but we, of course, don’t want them to grow insensitive or clueless of other people’s feelings.

This is the main reason we often pause to act out the emotion.

On occasions that she disobeys or shows disrespect, we stop and wait until she realizes what she did wrong and we keep the facial expression until she says the magic words.

Other times, like when she doesn’t share or take turns during playtime, we act hurt. Yes, we act hurt though we’re not really hurt.

It may seem that this is quality time lost, but looking at the life-long benefits, I think it is time well spent.:-)

So alongside the alphabet, let’s do the ABCs of Feelings too to help start our children’s emotional intelligence on the right track. I am no expert on EQ but here are some things that we tried (are still doing actually) that have good results so far.

If you have more suggestions, feel free to comment them in! 🙂

1) Find facial expression toys.

The fun way is always the best way!

There are many available toys that help build emotional intelligence. We found this one at National Bookstore for P120.

Alternatively, you can also print out character expressions flashcards and just glue them on cardboard. Or if you don’t wish to spend, you can simply draw different faces on paper plates. That can be a fun art activity too if you’re in a creative mood to design and color. 🙂

2) Feelings books and videos help a lot too.

Curious George’s Are You Curious? is one of the first Feeling books that we had. Bought this one for P70 at Booksale.

The book shows George in a happy, sad, hurt, loud, silly, scared, sick, dizzy, mischievous, naughty, and curious mood. The illustrations are really simple but it is surprisingly appealing to kids. Mia would often ask, ‘Why is George crying?’ or ‘Why is he hurt?’ and together, we would think of possible reasons. Maybe he fell, maybe he can’t find his toy, or maybe he’s hungry. What do you think?

For videos, this one has helped Mia understand safe, proud, loved, and special. I particularly like it because the facial expressions of kids are more genuine than in cartoons. Check it out.

Video source: YouTube

Character expressions by PaperZip