Using an Emotions Poster to teach kids about Emotions

In my world there are no bad kids, just impressionable, conflicted young people wrestling with emotions and impulses, trying to communicate their feelings and needs the only way they know how.

These are the wise words spoken by Mom and child education specialist, Janet Lansbury.

When you look closely at a hysterical 3 year old you’ll realize that most kids need time and experience to learn how to deal with their emotions. As parents we can help pave the way for our children to learn to identify these emotions. When children can put a name to an emotion, it makes it easier for kids to understand themselves and why they feel a certain way.

Egg faces with different emotions on them
Image by Oleg Moroz – Unsplash

This first step makes it a whole lot easier for them to acknowledge, identify and deal with their emotions.

My 6 year old and I have complete opposite personalities, and we struggle to understand each other quite often. She is a very determined little lady. One thing we’ve been struggling with is identifying emotions that overwhelm her. She feels everything so intensely!

So we turned to a friend who is a great play therapist. Her first suggestion was to create an emotions poster. It helps parents to learn how to teach kids about emotions. And then I had a light-bulb moment. I realized that when our emotions get so big and intense, they overshadow everything else! And when we help our kids to recognize them, we can start coaching our kids on how to pause, recognize and manage their own emotions.

This has been a game changer for our family!

What is an Emotions Poster? It is a poster with pictures of many different emotions. Every morning everyone in the family has to mark what emotion they are experiencing. As the day progress you can move your marker around as your emotions change. This activity helps children to get to know the different emotions they are feeling. It puts a name to those feelings, and it helps them identify changes in their emotions. The more we did this the more we saw how different we were. Beautifully different.

This poster has become a tangible way for our kids to figure out how others feel and to read each others emotional cues.
It has helped them put a name to their emotions.
It has given them a way to communicate their own emotions when they didn’t know how to express themselves.
It has taught them to be more sensitive to other’s emotions.

WARNING, during the first week my little princesses couldn’t keep their hands off the poster and it was basically a live feed of everyone’s emotions. But over time it settled down.

When I started looking around for posters like these on the web I couldn’t find anything that was a good fit for our family. I wanted something pretty, easy and understandable. We are currently using one by Big Life Journal, but we will be making our own version soon so watch this space…

When we teach our children how to recognize and deal with emotions, we give them tools that help them become emotionally intelligent. I have found this Emotions Poster to be a good start to a strong foundation.

Have fun learning and growing together

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