Finding your way with emotions

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What are they?

Emotions are our body’s natural response to thoughts and feelings. Different emotions can be identified by changes to a person’s facial expression, body language and voice.

When should my child learn them?

Children begin to learn about emotions from a very young age. Babies as young as 3 months will begin to pay attention to facial expressions. As children grow, they begin to match facial expressions with the body language and labels associated with each emotion.

Teaching emotions from a young age can help them learn to express themselves in appropriate ways and regulate their emotions. It allows them to put a name to a feeling and identify it for themselves and others. Being able to identify emotions in themselves can be the first step in learning what they can do to manage these emotions.

As always, if you notice that your child is having difficulty, consult a Speech Pathologist who can answer your questions and thoroughly assess your child’s language and communication skills. If required, they will then be able to provide you with strategies and practice to target these skills and help your child learn.

How do I practice at home?

There are a number of simple ways to practice emotions in everyday activities at home. Here are a few of our favourites.

Receptive (understanding emotions):

♦ Using photos/pictures of different emotions, talk through each emotion and talk about how the face and body looks when we feel each emotion.

♦ Have your child practice making each emotion. Try taking photos of them changing their facial expressions and then add these to your cards for practice!

♦ Use pictures of different emotions and ask your child to ‘find’ an emotion from a group. We suggest starting with 2 and gradually increasing the amount of pictures.

♦ Practice drawing faces for emotions. Concentrate on the shape of the mouth, eyes and eyebrows in each emotion.

Expressive (labelling emotions):

♦ Using photos/pictures of emotions, show your child an emotion and ask them to label it

♦ Discuss different times when you feel each emotion and ask your child to tell you times when they feel each emotion e.g. ‘what makes you feel happy?’

♦ Provide a basic scenario (e.g. ‘how would you feel if you fell over and hurt your knee?’) and have your child tell you how they would feel. Use pictures to provide options for answers if needed.

Apps for Practice

Finding your way with emotions » Teach child about emotions

Touch and Learn – Emotions (Innovative Mobile Apps)

Emotions (I Can Do Apps)

Avokiddo Emotions (Avokiddo)

Toca Kitchen Monsters (Toca Boca)

What’s the Expression (WebTeam Corporation)

Resources for Practice

The Measured Mom has a wonderful free reader all about emotions – it gets a lot of love in the Small TALK Clinic.

Sesame Street is a favourite for teaching emotions, and our particular favourites are Name that Emotion with Murray and these resources from the Sesame Street in Communities initiative.

For tips to use your child’s interests to teach emotions, have a look at our blog.

Kmart Australia also have a range of emotions based resources, including this wooden magnetic feelings board and this feather and feelings peacock.

Download our handout for quick access to our emotions tips!


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