The development of learning how to label one’s emotions is essential to building upon coping skills. It can be challenging to identify your feelings when your language development is not fully developed. As parents, it is essential to take the time educate children about emotions. Teaching at a young age what emotions look like and how to label them could guide children to be more attuned to feelings.
A great way to help children learn and identify emotions is by beginning with some facial expression activities. A simple activity entails taking a mirror and exchanging turns with your child making facial expressions. During your turn and theirs, with the mirror, label and explain each emotion.
Making a collage with your children could also develop their social-emotional identification skills. Take sometime to collect photographs of people making a wide range of facial expressions. Also, go through magazines to collect facial expressions. Ideally, try to use multiple models for each emotion to ensure your child will be able to generalize these expressions. Gather a group of these images and make a large poster board. On this poster board you could create a collage of all the faces collected and cut out. Including your children in this activity would be interactive and fun.
Another activity to introduce emotions is a bingo board game. Start out with taking a piece of paper, cut out pictures that reflect emotions, and place them in the boxes. After this step make small cards of the same pictures. Then, write out a list of emotions that correspond with the bingo cards and place them in a container. Make sure to review and explain each emotion prior to beginning the game. Play as you would any other bingo game. You should take time during the game to ask your children what makes them feel the emotions that are picked out of the container.
Creating a matching game that utilizes pictures of various emotions could be another fun way to implement emotion recognition skills. You could use emotion flashcards (either purchased or created at home) to play this game. Make sure to make two copies of each flashcard. Start out by shuffling all the cards and then face the out in rows face down. Take turns with your children flipping over two cards at a time, trying to match the pictures. A more advanced way of playing this game is using one set of flashcards with pictures and another with the words that correspond with the pictures. This activity helps children to recognize emotions and you could instruct them on how to respond to them accordingly.
Make sure to keep in mind the age of your child when choosing emotions and the amount of facial expressions you review at a time. If your child is 2-years-old, start with two or three emotions at a time, such as: happy, mad, and sad. With time and age development, you could increase the amount of emotions to introduce and the complexity of them.