Best Resources for Helping Young Children Understand their Emotions

Helping young children to develop an understanding of their own emotions and the emotions of others, is very important. If a child can start to use words, or signs to express how they are feeling it enables others to help them more effectively. For example, if a child is able to say when something is upsetting them, others can act accordingly to help.

Understanding the emotions of others can help children socially. If a child can work out that when things they do upset others or make others happy, they may find developing friendships easier.

There are lots of resources (children’s books, toys etc) available to help children develop their understanding of emotions, some of our favourites are listed below. Many of our recommendations are books, as those that read our blog regularly will know, I’m a big believer in the power of children’s books. They can be an excellent, informal and engaging way of helping children understand difficult concepts.

Recommended Resources For Teaching Children About Feelings:

    • The New Social Story Book™– Written by Carol Gray this book provides advice and examples of how to safely and meaningfully use and apply Social Stories™ to help some people with autism understand certain social situations. In terms of teaching children about emotions, this book is brilliant as it dedicates a whole chapter (chapter 6) to explaining what feelings are. In this chapter it covers a whole range of concepts relating to feelings, for example why and when we smile, why its ok to be sad and what it means to be comfortable. Created correctly, Social Stories™ are (in my opinion) an excellent way of explaining new skills, concepts, social situations/’rules’ in a simple and consise way that follows a predictable (well researched) format.

This book is fantastic for teaching children what it feels like to be left out and how including others can be the best solution to make everyone happy.  It is a good resource for fostering empathy, children might put themselves in the shoes of the main character who isn’t let into the other animals’ clubs, and imagine how they would feel in that situation.

Having a new baby sibling can create a whole host of new emotions for little ones. This book, with its gorgeous illustrations and gentle text- tells the story of a little elephant who suddenly has to be very grown up when his new baby sister is born. Great for helping children adjust to new members of the family!

We love this resource  for supporting children learning about emotions. On the reverse of these child-safe mirrors, is a wipe-clean board with an outline of a face. Children can use the mirrors to practise different expressions (happy, sad, angry, confused etc) and then turn the mirror around and draw it on the board. In our experience, many children love this activity!

With its unique, calming illustrations and clever cut out centre, this book is truly stunning! A lovely, relaxing book to help children start to understand the different emotions we feel.

If you’re keen on including the children in creating a resource for discussing feelings, this emotions fan by Twinkl, is brilliant. It’s also small and portable, meaning you can use it ‘in the moment’ to help children open up about how they are feeling in certain situations. Have a read of our full review here.

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Packed full of humour, excitement and rhymes, this book is a real favourite in our house. It’s about a little knight who one day changes from being polite and always saying ‘yes’ to suddenly feeling cross and saying ‘no’. Great for explaining to children why they sometimes feel angry and how their emotions can change.

These high quality, photo cards depict the following emotions happy, cross, surprised, sad, confused, frightened, bored and disgusted. Emotion cards are a brilliant method of opening up discussions on feelings- what makes us feel a certain way and why etc. What sets this resource apart from other cards is their clever use of photographs of real children displaying emotions. Children love seeing photos of other children and it makes the emotions feel less abstract and more real to them. Having a child on the photo card, as opposed to an adult or even a cartoon, enables children to relate to their emotion easier. They are also very engaging, we found the children wanted to look at them because they were photos of other children. All the images are also saved on the accompanying CD, enabling teachers to include them as part of their interactive white board presentations/lesson resources.

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A book that quickly becomes a favourite book. The children love this one and don’t get tired of it being read over and over again. It has lovely, almost sing-song, rhymes that many children can quickly learn to repeat. There’s a Bear on My Chair also addresses what its like to feel frustrated and cross when someone does something you don’t want them to..and won’t listen to you! Great for discussing what children would do in similar situations and for helping them to develop empathy for others.

We adore this book about a little girl that struggles with her emotions when she’s asked to do things she doesn’t like to do. The little girl makes an unlikely friend, who helps her realise that everything isn’t as bad as she thinks. He even teaches her a catchy song to help her next time she’s feeling out of control! Fabulous for little ones who struggle with their emotions in certain situations.

  • Worry Eater – We absolutely adore these gorgeous soft toys from Coiled Spring Games. Children write down/draw what is worrying them and unzip the worry eater’s mouth to put their worry inside, then zip him back up. The idea is that the Worry Eater can do all the worrying for them! It is such a lovely, comforting idea for children and although he obviously can’t actually solve their worries..we found that the process of discussing the worry, writing it/drawing it and zipping it away in his mouth, really helped. They are also very cuddly too -providing comfort to children.
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‘Flamm’ The Worry Eater

If you are wanting to teach a child four of the main emotions: happy, sad, angry and scared, this set of books is for you. With their gorgeous, bright and colourful illustrations each book carefully explains through stories why we feel certain ways and what we can do about it!

Useful for children who are anxious or worried about certain situations, this book’s beautiful message helps children understand that often things aren’t as scary as we think! It also teaches kids that everyone is scared once in a while, even those that look big and brave.

Encouraging children to talk about their feelings, especially surrounding their family life, can sometimes be challenging. These simple yet brilliant plastic people toys can help children open up about their emotions during play. Even if a child doesn’t talk about how they are feeling, just watching children play with these family counters, can provide a real insight into their understanding of relationships and emotions surrounding families and friends.

The Worry Box is a wonderful and very useful book for children who have lots of worries. Through this lovely story children can learn a very helpful strategy that they can then use themselves to deal with things that make them anxious.

How can you make yourself feel better when you are cross? This is a tricky dilemma for many children who are still learning to control their emotions. The Big Angry Roar, shows children that everyone deals with their emotions in different ways and its all about finding your own (safe) way of venting your emotions.

If you’re after a bit more than just a story to help support a child, these two amazing books might worth a look at. Not only do they include engaging stories but the rest of the books are made up of activities to encourage children to discuss their emotions. Both books have a specific purpose, Neon the Ninja is designed to help children who struggle with sleep and nightmares whereas Gilly the Giraffe is for building a child’s self-esteem.

If you’re looking for a way to help children understand the impact of their actions on others, this book is for you! A funny story about a cheeky penguin who becomes aware of how being too silly can make others feel sad.


  • My Mood Stars– These cute, plush emotion stars are a lovely, gentle way of helping children to start discussing how they are feeling. We loved them so much we’ve written a detailed review of them- have a read here.

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Top Resources For Helping Children Understand Emotions

*Please note, for the purpose of writing this post we were sent samples for review. All thoughts and opinions are our own. This article also contains Amazon Affiliate links, for more information please read our About Me page. 

 

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