Most parents will agree that although our little toddlers are becoming masters of the potty, their ABC’s and 123’s they still have a hard time expressing what they feel through words.
How many times have you heard a parent say to a whining child? “Use your words” or “What’s wrong?” or “Stop that!”. Only to end up completely frustrated on both sides.
One of the ways I felt helped me help my little one identify her feelings was to spell out and acknowledge the emotion. Example, I would ask, “Are you hungry?” or “Are you mad?” or “Are you sad we’re going home?” etc. The other approach I had when my oldest daughter Lil’ was in Kindergarten was using a “My Feelings Chart”. It was our alternative communication depot if Lil’ wasn’t ready to share how she felt.
The chart would have specific categories that involved Lil’s daily activities like School, Playtime, At home, Friends. She would pick a Happy, Sad or Mad face and put it in the appropriate slot on the chart. The chart was located in her room and at bedtime I would look it over while she brushed her teeth and casually talk to her about the day and acknowledge her feelings. For example, “You had a happy day at school. What did you do?” or “Why were you sad about your friends?”. It was a great way to teach her how to communicate her thoughts and feelings given she was pretty timid.
Remembering this, I thought of creating an updated version of “How I Feel” chart for Emmy. Here’s a look at Lil’s old “My Feelings Chart”. She still uses it to this day.
Let’s make a DIY “How I Feel” Chart
Emmy loves magnets so we’re using magnets in this project.
You will need: a small standard white magnetic board, magnet buttons, alphabet letter stickers, sticker book of happy faces, round label stickers. I bought most of my supplies from a dollar store and Target. I also reused some existing stickers to create emotion magnet buttons.
Assorted size and color magnets from Target. We used the medium sized ones.
You’ll rarely find sad face stickers, so we drew our own version of sad faces on blank round labels. (from dollar store)
I found an inexpensive alphabet letters set from Target’s $1 section. We used this to label Emmy’s chart with her name.
I found this happy face sticker book at the dollar store and used some of our Tinker Bell stickers for the “mad” emotion button.
Here are the magnetic emotion buttons we made.
I created a simple table chart on the computer and used clip arts for each category. Get creative and customize this chart according to your child’s activities (other categories: homework, soccer practice). I printed it out and attached it to magnetic board with double sided tape.
Here’s the completed “How I Feel” magnetic chart.
Here’s Emmy trying it out.
I think this is a great way to teach Emmy and Lil how to express their feelings and identify different emotions. Also, to understand that it’s ok to feel mad, frustrated and sad. Growing up, I didn’t have the same positive experience of self-expression, we were often either told to be quiet, to deal with it or sometimes ignored.
Come to think of it, I could sure use this type of chart for my husband and I. Although we see eye to eye in most matters, sometimes adults can also have a bad habit of holding emotions in and not being able to express or communicate certain concerns or issues. My “How I Feel” chart would probably have categories like, “Household Chores” or “Girls Night OUT” or “Date Night” and instead of a smiley or sad face the buttons would say, “PITCH IN” or “I NEED A BREAK” or “WE NEED A BABYSITTER!” as a hint. 🙂