Feelings Chart for Children

Sad girl

A feelings chart for children can be a useful tool to help kids work through and better understand their emotions.

Understanding Feelings

Everyone experiences all kinds of emotions, and children are no different. While some parents allow their youngsters to freely express their feelings at all times, other children may feel repressed. Hiding or minimizing emotions, particularly ones that some adults view as "bad", may result in negative consequences down the line. This is especially true for kids going through emotional events such as their parents' divorce, the death of a loved one or a big move to a new city or school.

While it is not always possible to act on one's feelings, kids shouldn't be afraid to talk about them. They should also know that whatever way they feel is valid; no feeling is "wrong".

Using a Feelings Chart for Children

It is sometimes difficult for kids to express themselves. Very young children often lack the nuances in vocabulary to express how they truly feel. Empathy is also a trait that comes with age and maturity; young kids might not understand that other people have feelings just like they do. Even children who can express their emotions well may benefit from a feelings chart, using it when the person they wish to talk to isn't around, or just to work out their feelings themselves.

To make using a feelings chart for children effective, try these tips:

  • Make it kid-friendly: For children who have few emotional outlets, make this the one area where they are allowed, even encouraged, to freely display their emotions. They might feel happy and scared at the same time, as in the case of attending a new school away from their old neighborhood. They might feel relieved that their parents are divorced after years of fighting, but also guilty and sad. All of these feelings are normal and should be treated as such.
  • Age appropriate: Very young kids who don't yet know how to read will benefit more from charts that display emotions in pictures instead of words. Look for those that have stickers or magnets with a happy, sad, scared, angry, confused and surprised face.
  • Make it colorful: Whether you purchase a chart, download one or make one yourself, make it as appealing as possible to young eyes by going for lots of color. Red may signal anger, while yellow may represent happiness. You might also ask a child for his input if you design your own chart -- let him decide which colors go with which feelings.

Finding Feelings Charts

These sites offer downloadable charts or charts for sale:

  • TeacherVision: This printable is best for older children who can circle how they feel at a particular time on the chart.
  • Amazon: From mood meters to fabric charts, there is a variety of feelings charts to help kids work through their emotions available from Amazon.com.
  • Free Printable Behavior Charts: Not only will you find printable feelings charts, but also printable stickers to put on them. Simple charts are appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers, while more detailed charts will work for older kids.

Moving On

While everyone feels angry or scared at some point, parents should make an effort to help children process these emotions in order to be able to move past them instead of letting them linger for extended periods of time. Some kids recover quickly, while others need more time; as the person who probably knows your child best, let him have the necessary time to work through his feelings, but also let him know that feeling angry at someone for a long time is not productive, and can actually have more negative impact on his own life than on the person for whom he harbors the negative feelings. In some cases, feelings charts may help children work through their fears as well.

Whether your child expresses his feelings well in words already or not, a chart can help him process his emotions. Using a chart for the times when he can't find the words can benefit your child, as well as everyone else in the house. A chart can also be used as a kind of dress rehearsal; working through the chart can give your child the understanding of his emotions that will enable him to have a conversation about those feelings afterwards.

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Feelings Chart for Children