Helping kids understand emotions and feelings

by Caroline Gee. Help your child to be better able to express their own needs and feelings.

Girl smiling


How are you feeling today? It can be really hard to put our feelings and emotions into words - and it can be especially hard for a young child.

How can we make our children better able to express their own needs and feelings, as well as being more emotionally aware of the needs and feelings of others?

How CBeebies can help

Everyone loves to see a happy face! Why not make a happy pizza face by going to the Balamory Make & Colour pages and following Penny's step-by-step guide? While you are preparing your pizza, have a chat about what makes your child happy.

If you want to see lots of happy faces, then click on the Let's Celebrate Street Party Song. Can you think of any other words to describe how the people are looking? They certainly look excited to be at the party!

Sometimes we might not feel happy. The Tikkabilla Animal Finger Faces activity is a great way to explore other emotions too. Try adding a sad or worried expression to the finger puppets and talk about times when we might have these feelings.

My Story has two templates specifically designed to help children express and talk about feelings and emotions, I Feel and I Wish.

You can use these as a tool either online or printed off and away from the computer, whichever suits your situation. Your child can draw on printed out pages, or use the paint and sticker tools to express how they are feeling and explore their emotions. A set of faces showing different emotions are available in the stickers section, these can be used to help you express different feelings.

You can also use the I Feel and I Wish pages in conjunction with other pages. For example, if you’re moving house, draw a picture of your new house in Where I Live and ask your child to complete I Feel and I Wish to help them express how they feel about the move. A house move, especially to another area, may bring up mixed emotions. Talking about them can help you focus on the positive ones whilst also addressing any fears and anxieties.

How to make a magic moment

Why not make a scrapbook together called 'How Am I Feeling Today'? You could collect pictures and photos from magazines showing people with different facial expressions, or draw your own faces.

Divide the book up into pages headed happy, sad, excited, angry or any other emotion your child can explain or relate to. Under the pictures you could have a speech bubble describing a time when your child or someone else they know has felt this way.

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Expert opinion

We all experience lots of feelings and emotions, some positive and some less so. It can be difficult for a young child to communicate their needs, views and feelings and to recognise other people's feelings.

Even from an early age, you can help your child to become more emotionally aware. It will help them learn to respect themselves and the people around them - and will help them form and maintain positive relationships with other people.

Caroline Gee, Reception teacher

Top tips

  • It is really important for children to realise that all feelings are important - even negative ones - and that it's okay to show them.If your child is feeling a negative emotion (such as anger), things like deep breathing, moving to a quiet place or finding something to distract them will help your child to deal with the negative feeling they are experiencing.By finding words to describe our feelings, we are giving children an emotional understanding which will help them communicate their feelings.Children who can identify their own emotions are more likely to be able to notice and understand other people's emotions.

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