Creative Child

8 Simple Activities to Teach Children about Emotions

by Rebecca Eanes

Helping children to understand and manage their emotions is key to their emotional healthy, happiness, and success. Emotional intelligence affects all aspects of our lives, and it’s never too early to begin teaching our children important coping skills. There are many ways to do this, of course, but below I’ve outlined 8 simple activities that don’t take much prep work but are really effective at helping your children understand their wide range of human feelings.


  1. As you read a book together, talk about how the characters of the book are likely feeling. Point out their facial expressions and ask your child, “What is this expression saying? Why do you think he’s feeling that way?” You might discuss what Little Red Riding Hood was probably feeling when she discovered that it wasn’t Grandma in that bed, and this, in turn, opens up discussion for more in-depth conversations on emotions, like “What makes you feel scared?”

  2. Play the Feelings March game. It’s simple! Ask your child to march around the room while you call out different emotions. When you say “sad” for instance, she’ll march with a sad expression and body language. Then you’ll say “excited” and perhaps she’ll smile big and skip around the area. Play until you’ve run through a wide range of emotions.

  3. Create a simple Feelings Faces matching game by cutting out several different facial expressions from magazines or printing them from your computer and writing an index card with the corresponding emotion. Ask your child to match the faces to the emotions.

  4. A simple conversation around the dinner table can be instrumental in teaching children about emotions. As you share the joys and hardships of your day, you can explain how your circumstances made you feel, and how you handled those feelings. Invite them to talk about the highs and lows of their day as well, and if they seem stuck in a negative emotion, help them work through it by actively listening and providing empathy, then sharing a time when you felt similar and what you did about it.
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