This week on the blog, I’ve talked about how to sit with our feelings at this uncertain time. If you missed the post, I shared several strategies to help us work through our feelings. As adults, we understand what Is going on the world around us and of course, we are feeling many strong emotions. We may be feeling fear, sadness, anxiety and or grief.
Our kids are having these feelings too and the hard part is they may not even know how to describe what they are feeling. Young children are just learning how to regulate their emotions and express themselves. They may start acting out, become withdrawn or become extra clingy during this time. They hear our conversations and see the news if they have it on. They are hearing things they don’t understand and are picking up on whatever their family members may be feeling. Their worlds have also been turned upside down. Their routines may be totally different with the school closures and parents now working from home or not working at all. Even though all this extra time at home with our families can be wonderful, it’s a huge change.
However, there are things we can do to help our toddlers and preschoolers understand and work through their feelings. We can help our youngest toddlers label their feelings and we can help our older preschoolers work through their feelings by playing and creating. I have compiled a list of activities that parents can use to help their toddlers and preschoolers recognize, label and work through their feelings.
Art Feelings Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
The Feelings Collage
What you do:
Look through magazines or print off pictures from the internet that express different feelings. Then glue them on paper.
Paper Bag Puppet
What you do:
Take a brown paper bag and draw or create a face using materials from around the house.
Materials may include googly￼ eyes, felt, tissue paper, foil, paper scraps cut into different shapes etc. Be creative!
Dry Erase Faces
What you do:
Print off blank pictures of faces like these coloring pages from Dabbles & Babbles. Then have your children color them, expressing whatever they are feeling. Then erase and start over.
Open Ended Drawing or Painting
Have your children draw or paint whatever comes to mind. Then talk about the picture. They may open up about their thoughts and feelings.
This is usually classified as a sensory activity, but it is creative as well. Make silly faces out of play-dough or let your children use their imaginations to create whatever comes to mind. They can also add items to the faces like beads, pompoms, googly eyes, rocks, shells etc. You could do this with modeling clay as well. It makes a perfect mixed media art activity.
Story Writing for Preschoolers
Have your child dictate a story to you and write it down. My daughter loves to do this. It’s a great window into your child’s thoughts. You can either make the story into a homemade book letting the child draw the pictures or keep it as is.
Family Feelings Activities
The Happy List
Have the child make a list of things that make him or her happy. They can draw pictures to go with it and you could turn it into a happy book. This could be done with other feelings as well. You could also make it a family happiness list and write down things that make each family member happy.
Feel Good Jar
Talk with the child about how to make others feel good. Each morning, they can either draw a name from the jar or an action depending on how you want to set this up. You could either put in the names of your family members or you could write down actions instead and the child can pick who they want to do something nice for that day. Here are some action examples.
- Give a complement,
- Give a hug,
- Share a snack,
- Take a walk together,
- Call a friend,
- Help a family member with a chore,
- Tell someone you love them,
- Make a homemade card,
- Share a toy.
The Bruised Apple
This is a good activity to do in a classroom setting, but you could do it at home as well. It’s a good activity for teaching how our words or actions can hurt other people without us knowing it. All you do is have the child hit the apple on a table or the floor. Then cut it open to see the bruising inside.
Conversations About Feelings With Kids
Sometimes the best way to teach something is to slip it into everyday conversations or activities.
One way is using the daily calendar. We have a calendar that has a space for feelings. Ask the child how they are feeling and have them put the face on the calendar.
Since we are all stuck at home, there may be more screen time than usual, so talk about the shows your child is watching. Many shows have feelings, friendship or specific fears as themes for specific episodes. My daughter watches Bubble Guppies, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie and Pete The Cat. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is another show that talks about emotions often. There are many episodes of kids shows that talk about being sick and or going to the doctors. With all this talk of sickness due to covid19, that may be worth exploring with your kids as well. They may have new fears about sickness and going to the doctors. My daughter has mentioned being afraid of the doctor several times since the pandemic started. I know she’s not alone.
Feelings Snacks for Kids
You can tie the feelings theme into meal times by having kids make faces on their food while preparing it. This works best with foods with toppings.
- Mini pizzas,
- Rice cakes with peanut butter.
- English muffins with peanut butter.
Feelings Activities Resources
I’ll leave you with a few extra resources that you can explore. If you want books, games and even more activities, check out these informative web pages.
If you are looking for games, songs and even pretend play activities with a feelings theme, check out this list of feelings activities for preschoolers.
Here is another great resource for art, math and even science feelings activities.
Check out this list of 10 books to help kids understand their feelings.
What are you doing to help your kids work through difficult emotions during this strange time? Tell me in the comments.
Loved this article – I think it’s so important to get kids comfortable talking about this so as adults it’s comfortable and natural
Thank you. What great advice! I found this really helpful and am looking forward to trying some of these.
These are great tips. Working with our children about feelings is so incredibly important. We want everyone to understand and deal with their feelings in a healthy way as early as possible.