Printable Feelings Charts for Kids and How to Use Them

Updated May 23, 2022
Teacher showing emotion cards to child

Feeling charts for children can be valuable tools to help kids work through and better understand their emotions. Whether you are using the feelings chart for preschoolers or older kids, this method can help them understand that their feelings are common and they are not alone. Learn several ways to use free printable feelings charts for kids at home and at school.

Printable Emotions Charts for Kids

Sometimes, kids don't completely understand their emotions, or they may have difficulty expressing their emotions. Offering them a feelings chart can enable them to simply point to the emotions they are experiencing.

Feelings Charts for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Since kids of varying ages have different levels of understanding, a toddler's emotions chart has limited emotions, and features images of real children kids can relate to. This can help them see and describe the feelings they want to convey.

Feeling Charts for Older Kids

Older kids have a more diverse understanding of the range of emotions they may be feeling. Using a printable with a wide variety of emotions displayed via emojis can be more helpful for them. They can also use a feeling circle to help them pinpoint exactly how they are feeling. For help with downloading and printing, check out the Adobe printables guide.

How Can a Feelings Chart Help Kids?

It is sometimes complicated for kids to express themselves. Very young children or those with disabilities often lack the nuances in vocabulary to express how they truly feel, so an emotions chart can be the perfect vehicle to express themselves. Even children who can express their emotions without hesitation may benefit from a feelings chart. They may use the chart when the person they wish to talk to isn't around, or just to work out their feelings themselves. So, children can use a feelings chart to help them understand their emotions and give them a name. Charts can also help parents, caregivers, and teachers see triggers in emotions and help children deal with anxiety and fear.

Learning to Express Emotions in a Positive Way

Once a child has learned to identify their emotions through a feelings chart, they can begin to understand the emotion and express it positively. For example, if a child identifies that they are feeling sad, a parent, caregiver, or teacher can help them figure out why they are feeling sad and how to deal with and process that emotion - or how to recognize the emotion and not place any judgment on it. Rather than having a temper tantrum or a breakdown, you are teaching children positive ways to express and handle their emotions.

How to Use a Feeling Chart at Home

Sometimes, kids can get too overwhelmed and emotional to express their true feelings at home. Other times, they might be afraid of the emotions that are raging inside of them. There are several ways that a feelings chart can be helpful at home.

Create an Emotional Safe Space

Create a safe space with chairs, stuffed animals, weighted blankets, fidget toys, and other sensory calming tools. When your child feels a "negative emotion" or is overwhelmed, have them identify their emotion and use the safe space to calm down.

Practice Identifying the Emotions Together

Practice the different emotions together. Point to the emotion and practice making the face together.

Use the Feelings Chart to Practice Calming Strategies

Practice calming strategies for when children are feeling emotions such as sad or scared. Point to the emotion and practice calming down together using techniques like breathing and mindfulness. This way, they make a connection between the emotion and the strategy.

Create a Morning Routine

Have your child get used to expressing their emotions by starting their morning selecting an emotion they feel. This can help you learn triggers that might cause emotional changes.

Build an Emotional Vocabulary

Use the feeling wheel at home to help older children build their emotional vocabulary. Regularly talk about how emotions are connected. Explain to your kids that you also feel those emotions by offering them examples.

Make Feeling Charts Accessible

girl pointing to paper on wall

Hang a feelings chart up on a wall or on the refrigerator for kids to reference when they are feeling overwhelmed. Have them put magnets on the emotion they are feeling. This way, they can refer to it when needed, which might help them express their emotions more easily. You might also have them point to their emotions if they are nonverbal. You may also opt to place a feelings chart in a room that might be more emotionally charged than most. Allow your child to reference the emotions chart and point to the different emotions they are feeling. This can help you read your child so you can work through their emotions together.

How to Use a Feeling Chart at School

For children who have problems expressing themselves or are nonverbal, an emotions chart can be a lifesaver. These can help teachers and those around the child to better understand their feelings and needs.

Add to a Sensory Box

Laminate a feelings chart and add it to their bag or sensory box. This can help them express their different emotions to teachers and friends.

Hang the Feelings Chart in the Classroom

Hang an emotions chart in a classroom in a highly accessible area. Children can use the chart to reference the different emotions they are feeling and put words to them.

Regularly Ask How Students Are Feeling

Give each student a feelings chart. Ask 'How are you feeling?' and allow the kids to use the chart to differentiate their different emotions.

Emotional Bingo

Play emotional bingo. Create a bingo board on the emotions chart. Make facial expressions that convey each emotion, and have each child choose the appropriate emotion that matches it on the chart.

I Felt This Way When

Elementary school students who sit on the classroom floor listen to teacher

Talk about emotions with students. Point to a feeling on the chart and have students discuss or write down a time they felt that emotion. Talk about ways to handle their different emotions.

Talk About Emotional Ranges and Deeper Emotions

For older students, use the wheel chart to show how emotions range. For example, a student who thinks they are mad or scared might find out they feel rejected or insecure. You can use the wheel to build their emotional intelligence and come up with strategies to deal with each emotion.

Tips for Using a Feelings Chart

There are several ways to use feelings charts in classrooms and around your home. Check out a few tips for successfully using an emotions chart.

Encourage an Array of Emotions

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 simultaneously, 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, or guilty and sad. All of these feelings are normal and should be treated as such.

Offer Age Appropriate Feelings Charts

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 stickers or magnets with happy, sad, scared, angry, confused, and surprised faces.

Make Feeling Charts 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 them decide which colors go with which feelings.

Importance of Expressing Emotions

Everyone experiences all kinds of emotions, and children are no different. While some parents allow their youngsters to freely express their feelings, 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 they feel is valid, no feeling is "wrong."

Free Emotions Charts for Kids to Print

Whether your child articulates their feelings well or not, a feelings chart can help them process their emotions and differentiate between various emotions like mad or frustrated. Using a chart for the times when they can't find the words can benefit your child, as well as everyone else in the house. Working through the chart can give your child an understanding of their emotions, which will enable them to have a conversation about those feelings afterward.

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Printable Feelings Charts for Kids and How to Use Them