Observe the child during daily routines. Read a simple story book about a character that is experiencing different emotions or look at photos of the child and other family members.
Encourage the adult to discuss emotions during the day, by commenting. “You are smiling. Are you happy?” “Why are you crying?” “Are you mad or sad?” “Are you hungry? What do you want to eat?” “Are you sleepy?” The child when mad at the adult will often volunteer, “I’m mad at you!” Look at a board book about emotions or read a simple story about emotions. Talk as you read about what the character is feeling. If the child doesn’t respond, give the child choices. “Is he happy or sad?” “What happened to make him sad?”
The child should be able to identify that he and others are expressing basic emotions or states: happy, sad, mad, hurt, sleepy, hungry.
Discuss with early childhood educators and parents the importance of helping children learn how to express their emotions verbally. Often when children do not have the words to say how they feel, they act out to express themselves. Once children express how they feel, adults can offer options to help deal with the emotions. Children learn to moderate and control their emotions when they understand what they are feeling and how they can feel better.
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015
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