Helping Kids Name Emotions: I’ve Got The Feels (Flashcards)

Four-year old Kelly is relatively new to preschool. She wants to play with her new classmates, but is too shy and fearful about approaching and joining the group. One day during free play she watches three other girls absorbed in an elaborate tea party complete with pandas and wolves. Kelly passively observes the ongoing play.

Her teacher approaches and says, “Honey, is something wrong?” Kelly shrugs her shoulders. Her teacher persists, “Kelly, are you frustrated?” Kelly nods yes. Her teacher then reminds Kelly of the class rule, “If you feel frustrated, ask a friend or teacher for help.” Kelly and her teacher quickly discuss how she might get another stuffed animal and ask her classmates if the zebra can come to the party. ~Excerpt from Enhancing Vocabulary in Young Children

In the excerpt above, Kelly’s teacher encourages Kelly to name her emotion. In this case, Kelly was frustrated. While what the teacher did in this case seems simple, the ability to identify an emotion is a powerful component of cultivating emotional intelligence and resilience. In fact, author and researcher Dan Siegel sums up years of research in this area with the phrase, “In order to Tame it, Name it.”

Here’s the rub… according to researcher Brené Brown, the average adult can only name three emotions: happiness, sadness, and anger. We want to work toward changing that statistic and to this end, we’ve created some simple sentence completion cards called I’ve Got the Feels that you can grab for FREE at the bottom of this post.

I’ve Got the Feels is a fun and engaging way for your child to expand their emotional vocabulary, and familiarize themselves with their emotions. There are 17 cards, that each illustrate a different complex emotion. Your child can use these as a reference point, when they ask themselves the question: How am I feeling right now? As your child gets good at naming their emotions as they experience them, they’ll be able to express themselves, and even process the difficult emotions they once avoided.

How to use these cards:

  1. The obvious: When your child is feeling emotional, help them sort through the faces/expressions and identify the name of what they are feeling.
  2. Create stories: Pick up a card at any time of day and create a story around the character and feeling.
  3. For fun: Pick a card at least once a day and complete the sentence prompt: I feel [emotion] when ___________.

Pro tip: Ask your child where they feel the emotion in their body. In their throat, chest, tummy, head? Ask them to just notice it, and watch it pass by.

2 thoughts on “Helping Kids Name Emotions: I’ve Got The Feels (Flashcards)

  1. Thank you!

    I heard the master class for parents with anxious children.

    I have a five y o kid who also deals with frustration a lot. I think helping him name his emotions would help him a lot!

  2. Thank you for these tips for seeing the world in a good way and not getting overwhelmed by emotions that prevent healthy interaction with others. “Falling down a hole” is an excellent description.

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