Teaching kids about feelings

Body Language and Feelings

A standard lesson that I taught every year as an elementary school counselor was recognizing feelings. It was a fun lesson. I’d bring in large cut outs of children showing mad, sad, happy or scared feelings and ask kids to guess how the child was feeling. We’d talk about body language and how  we know what someone is feeling.  We described feelings and came up with positive ways to show how we feel and negative ways to express the same feeling.  For example. a positive way to handle anger is to talk about it and a negative way is to hit someone.

You will find a lot of the concepts that I taught about feelings in this excellent video from Rocket Kids:


In her excellent book, Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, Michele Borba, Ed.D. writes that the first step to raising empathetic kids is to teach them to recognize feelings in themselves and others.  In today’s all about me world much of our focus is on facts, logic and personal achievement. The thing that is often missing is not only identifying feelings but recognizing the impact they have on our behavior. Feelings especially negative ones, are pushed aside and down until they come out in explosive ways.  How can we take the first step in helping kids own their feelings? Here are some ideas:

  1. Label feelings: Don’t assume that every child naturally recognizes and interprets body language correctly. Especially with the very young child begin to name the feelings that you see.  “I see you frowning and stomping your feet. You look angry. What is upsetting you?”
  2. Point out feelings in others: Help children recognize the body language of feelings. Help them connect specific body language with specific feelings.  “Your brother is smiling and looks really happy. When you share with him he feels good.”
  3. Teach kids they are in charge of feelings: Help children see the connection between thoughts, feelings and actions. Teach specific techniques. “I see that you are angry.  What can you do to change the angry feeling? Would this be a good time to practice some deep breathing?”

Teaching kids to recognize feelings not only helps them to be more successful but ultimately helps them to be more empathetic to the feelings and situations of others. It’s a win-win situation.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Cooperation

Wyatt wants to play Frisbee. Max want to build a fort and Callie wants to have tea party. How do the three friends reconcile their differences? Can it be done? When Wyatt doesn’t get his way, Max’s mother suggests he be the Superhero for the day. Join Wyatt as he learns how the magic of cooperation and compromise can bring the five friends closer together.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Cooperation (Volume 6)


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