Feelings Charts Help Teach Emotional Life Skills to Children

Photo: (Photo : Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash )

Emotional regulation affects how people spend their money, time, energy, interact with people, and deal with challenges. Thus, managing emotions is an important life skill that parents should teach from an early age.

The Complexity of Emotions

In pandemic times where masked people lack emotion, parents need to check in on their children about how they feel. There is happiness, sadness, and anger, and feelings of guilt, uncertainty, excitement, and pride.

In fact, Robert Plutchik, a renowned Professor Emeritus of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, noted that there are 34,000 unique emotions-not all of which are easy to understand and recognize, Self Esteem Awareness pointed out. Plutchik is famous for coining the Wheel of Emotions. He has also conducted studies in emotions, suicide, violence, and psychotherapy.

ALSO READ: How Do I Teach My Child Self Control?

Teaching Emotional Life Skills Age by Age

The Michigan State University stressed the importance of learning to recognize and manage feelings early in children's development. Here is a quick guide to teaching emotional life skills to kids:

  •  Ages 5 to 8 should be able to recognize and understand it is ok to have different feelings.
  •  Ages 9 to 11 can correctly identify feelings (theirs and others) and express their feelings appropriately.
  •  Ages 12 to 14 can interpret body language. This age group can also be taught how to respond correctly to others' feelings while managing their highs and lows.
  •  Ages 15 to 19 begin to learn to manage feelings within intimate relationships. They also need to know to respect everyone who has their perceptions and feelings.

ALSO READ: How Kids Could Use Art to Express Their Feelings About COVID-19

Kids observe their parents, other family members, other adults, and even their friends see how they react to different circumstances. According to their age, they may not always understand what feelings they have and how they affect others. Older children can be encouraged to journal about their thoughts, moods, and emotions.

Feelings Charts Help Kids Correctly Identify Emotions

Dr. Gloria Willcox created the Feelings Wheel-a clever way to get kids to open up. When you want to check in on your kids without crossing boundaries, it is wise to know what mood they are in first. It is akin to the Wheel of Emotions, but the Feelings Wheel zeroes in on 40 feelings expanded.

For younger children, a Feelings Chart showing a few basic emotions would be helpful. Psychotherapist Dr. Annette Nunez explains, "all age groups from preschoolers to high school youth will benefit from the Feelings Chart."

Not just kids, but Feelings Charts can also help parents. Dr. Nunez noted that adults could sometimes mislabel the feelings of children. It is best to clarify with the child the primary emotion before introducing the more complex emotions.

For instance, Dr. Plutchik identified eight primary emotions as the basis for thousands of other emotions. Every primary emotion also has a corresponding opposite emotion:

  •  Joy and Sadness
  •  Surprise and Anticipation
  •  Fear and Anger
  •  Acceptance and Disgust

Kids who learn to identify and appropriately express their feelings are better able to regulate their mood. Such children also tend to develop fewer behavioral problems and are more empathetic.

Keep in mind to use Feelings Charts in a timely fashion. That is, avoid bringing out the chart in the middle of a tantrum, Pure Wow advised. It is best to wait until the child feels better and hence more receptive to the teaching moment.


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Emojis are also a good way for children to identify their moods. Local author of Santa Monica, Jeff Goodman, is also working on a new book that explores the many different emotions in eggs' faces. That is, the children's book "Feel Like Eggs?" will include a chart with pictures of eggs showing various expressions-a scared egg, a silly egg, and so on. Goodman expects the chart to be a conversation starter for kids and parents.

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