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Recognizing Emotions: How to Teach Kids

Is your child struggling with recognizing emotions?

The range of emotions that students experience in a classroom can happen due to several factors. Generally, there are 6 basic emotions: disgust, anger, fear, sadness, surprise, and happiness. 

A student may come to feel angry if they can’t understand their lesson. Another student might feel happy when they get a high score on an exam. Putting a student’s feelings into words will reduce the intensity of those emotions, which is why you need to teach this to your students in school. 

Recognizing emotions can be hard. These tips were super helpful!

Help Kids Start Recognizing Emotions

Give them the tools they need

Provide young students with a vocabulary for them to name their emotions. With this, they can identify and start recognizing emotions. Often, students might not have the right words to describe what they’re feeling and they might recognize the emotions in the expressions on another person’s face. 

In such a case, you can use pictures. Ask your student to point to the picture that best expresses their feelings and then teach them the word for that feeling. You can also use books to teach emotions. 

There are plenty of books that show the facial expressions of the characters. If you’re handling older students, you have to choose books with appropriate themes for their age. 

When reading a book to students, emphasize the facial expressions and emotions. Then you can reinforce your lesson by teaching your students the vocabulary for the emotions of the characters in the story.

Talk about feelings

It’s also important to show your students how to use the “feeling labels” in their vocabulary every day. An effective way to do this is by finding opportunities to express your feelings with them too. 

Also, make it a point to ask your child each day how they’re feeling. Make a chart with different faces when dealing with young students. This will help them choose a feeling, then you can discuss the feeling together. 

When you notice that one of your students feels an emotion, try pointing this out to them. For instance, you can say “You look very happy that your snack is a slice of pizza today” or “It looks like you’re sad because your friends aren’t playing with you.” This is an easy way to help them start recognizing emotions and how they’re feeling.

Writing essays to label emotions

For older students who already know how to label their emotions, you should help them learn how to manage those emotions more effectively. One way to do this is by assigning your students essays about emotions. 

Your students can go through heart-wrenching essays about hope on Samplius along with other essays on the wide essay base. They can find samples here along with title ideas for their essays. They can even ask expert’s help for them to complete the writing work you give them.

Identify other people’s feelings

You can also provide your students with many opportunities to identify feelings in other children. For instance, ask your students to guess what someone else feels based on how their face looks. 

You can even use picture books or cartoons for this activity. These will help your students learn how to recognize other people’s feelings through their facial expressions. Learning how to identify other people’s feelings is very important. 

Your students will need this to avoid conflicts even while they’re growing up. It’s also important for them to learn how to identify and label their own feelings as it will help them stay motivated at college

Play games that teach feelings

For younger students and those in grade school, you can play some games that will teach and reinforce feelings. Some examples of these games are:

Role-Playing Games:

For this, you need at least 2 students to act out a situation. For instance, you can ask one of your students to show that they’re feeling nervous before an exam. After the role-play, you can then discuss what your students think the characters feel. Doing this allows your students to get an insight into different emotions in different situations.

Emotional Charades:

For this, you need to write down different emotions on small sheets of paper, and then place them in a hat. Ask your students to take a piece of paper and then act out the emotion. The other students have to guess the emotion. This game helps students identify what others feel and how people can act out emotions differently.


Teaching students how to label their emotions is a great way of helping them manage their emotions effectively. Students should recognize their emotions in various situations. This will help them identify what they (and other people) feel and why. As a teacher, you should help your students understand that emotions they feel will differ depending on the situation and that’s okay.

Recognizing emotions can be hard. These tips were super helpful!

Author’s Bio:

Helen Birk has this uncanny knack of coming up with surprisingly great work whenever a challenging task is given to her. Her expertise in writing academic essays, theses and dissertations is second to none and that has catapulted her to new career heights.