Big Feelings: Internal Emotion Recognition

Recognizing Internal Emotions
Recognizing Internal Emotions

So, in reality, this post should be called, ” Why all speech therapists jumped for joy when they saw Inside Out.” Buuuut… that doesn’t fit well on a pinnable graphic.

But really. That movie is fantastic for explaining emotions to kids. It’s not often you get a tangible example of internal emotions and their effect on a child. It’s the perfect reference for helping a child identify and process internal emotions.

I have found that, for most children, identifying emotions within themselves is much more difficult than recognizing emotions in a character in a story. It gets even trickier when they feel wronged, betrayed, or otherwise angry.

So how can a parent make the jump from a story to the child’s actual emotions? Working with the special needs preschool population, I had success in creating a middle step. I made a simple small book just by folding a few sheets of paper and stapling. I then brainstormed with my clients about situations that would make them mad (the majority of my students struggled the most with anger). If your child can’t offer up their own suggestions, try framing the conversation so it seems like he or she came up with it.

I then gave each child a few minutes to draw the situation, such as, “So-and-so took my favorite toy” or “I had to leave my friend’s house.” This really helped each child to feel involved and validated. Just don’t let it go too long.

We then talked about how Mad the child felt, and slowly moved into “Well, you don’t want to stay mad forever. How can we feel Happy again?”

Like I said, this “my feelings book” concept worked with several children, even those with moderate disabilities. It was a perfect way to bridge the gap between speech/school and home, because the child took the book home and parents worked on it in a similar way. However, it is by no means the only way to address big feelings.
I have seen charts that have pictures of each feeling and children refer to those to discern those big feelings as they happen. See (Link to come) for a great tutorial!
You can jump on Pinterest and find so many great ideas.

My advice would be to be mindful of your child’s abilities, their language skills, and their attention span.

Next time I will have Part 3: Processing Big Feelings.

So how do you help your child label what they are feeling? Does your child struggle with this?

Author: Miss Haley

My name is Haley, and I am a wife, mother, and speech therapist. I want to teach parents simple yet effective speech therapy principles and strategies to improve language at home.

Speak your mind, but please be kind!