September 3, 2015

How to Help Kids Identify and Express Feelings

For children, identifying and expressing their emotions can be a frustrating struggle. In M2's case, having a speech delay and autism makes it even more difficult. (Read more about her diagnosis here.) Her emotions can go from happy and content to scared and screaming as she shakes in a little ball. A loud noise or an outcome she doesn't like (such as being told no) can send her into a rage. Flying off the handle screaming; shrieking; slamming into, hitting and kicking walls and doors and she melts down. Even getting too close to her can make it worse. Forget touching her, that'll really cause more problems. Hearing other kids having fits, crying or whining also sends her into sensory overload. She doesn't understand what she's feeling and can't identify it. There is no way for her to communicate with us how she's feeling as saying the words is impossible for her right now. The frustration and fear at not being able to understand or identify what she's feeling is often evident on her face.




I've tried showing M2 pictures in books of different expressions to help teach her what different emotions are. This is a common technique and one that can be started even when kids are babies B's age. However, it hasn't been something M2 has connected with. To her, those cute books of babies and kids are just that...books of other babies and kids. The emotions on the faces don't register with her. There is no difference from one face to another. The same goes when I try to make different faces myself to help her. It just does not register in her world. Often, she won't even look at my face as I try to look mad, sad or happy to the extreme. Ask her to look at Mommy and she'll look anywhere but at my face.

Since she's gotten her My Happy Pillows, M2 has been making progress. These adorable pillows and their matching plush mini me's were developed by 6-year-old Isabella to help other kids express themselves. Each animal pillow has a side with a happy face and a flip side with either a scared, shy, angry, bored or sad face. There are Zee the monkey, Sunny the bear, Rosie the dog, Leo the lion, Spotty the giraffe and Shadow the panda from which kids can choose.

Rosie and Leo give M2 a cute way learn about feelings. Eventually, my hope is that she'll show us how she's feeling herself by holding up the correct side of one of the pillows. She has started saying, "happy," since getting the pillows and I'm working with her so she learns what sad and scared look like as well. I call that success!

The difference in the sides on the pillows has registered with her as she likes to keep them on the happy side. She runs around calling them "my happy" and insists they stay in a special spot (lined up) in her room. The matching little stuffed animals she carries around and loves to hang from different spots or have sit in her doll high chair watching over her while she sleeps.


Now that she's identifying the feelings on the pillows, I'm incorporating other learning tactics as well. The books of different facial expressions seem to be starting to connect for her. Flipping through, she picks out the happy faces. Subtle differences in expressions are still lost on her and she doesn't have a name for the others yet. When she gets upset herself, I've begun naming the emotion for her. I'll ask, "Are you angry?" Or, "Are you sad?" Sometimes there is no response, other times she'll say yes or no. For us, any little progress is progress so I'll take it!

My Happy Pillow seems to have been the key to getting through to her. The pillows have become the launching off point for her to learn to connect with her feelings. Plus, they're so soft and cute! The perfect size for her to cuddle up with.


This post is sponsored by My Happy Pillow.

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers
Affiliate Links

13 comments:

  1. Expressing and recognizing feelings is such an important skill for our children to learn.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So great you've found something so helpful :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. That's great that you were able to find this pillow to help her express herself. It's very important for children to be able to express themselves just as anyone else and to be able to share those who are around them.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Those pillows are awesome! I'm so happy they are helping her express her emotions. My twins get so frustrated because they can't express themselves fully yet. We need to get some of these.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I had no idea these pillows existed! Did you take her to see that movie, "Inside Out" this summer? We meant to take our 3 year old so he could better identify his feelings! Maybe those little plush toys will help her as well!

    ReplyDelete
  6. You are correct, we must honour our children's feelings and allow them to express them freely.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love your idea of pillow... Fun and innovative

    ReplyDelete
  8. Normally the kids learn from what they see from us and from anywhere else. It's important that we help them distinguish what they feel so we can teach them how to get rid of it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I can see how having physical objects as references would help her a lot. I think the ways you're teaching her to express her emotions are great.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think this is the easiest way to teach the kids about their feelings.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is a great post. Wonderful advice. You are so patient. Helping toddler identify and accept their emotions is so important.

    ReplyDelete
  12. These pillows are such a great help! It is important for children to learn to express themselves

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm really happy when I see products like this that helps children understand their emotions more. It helps the kids and it helps the parents understand more. Awesome job there.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. As a busy mom, I'm not always able to respond to each one, though I read and appreciate them all.