Feeling the Feels – let’s start the conversation

By Associate Psychologist Laura Moresi

Across the last few decades, research has shown the importance of understanding and responding to emotions in healthy ways. Emotional intelligence is actually thought to be the best indicator of a child’s success. 

Children aren’t born with the skills to respond to and cope with their emotions, they learn through the adults around them. Even as adults we struggle with the very skills we hope to teach. So where to start?


Here are a few ideas for how to include emotions talk in your everyday life. This will support children in becoming emotionally attuned and resilient in the process. 

  • Use your child’s favourite characters from books, computer games, tv shows etc. to initiate and talk about emotions. For example, ‘Emma is frowning, it looks like she is feeling angry. When have you felt angry?’
  • Make a game of pulling different emotions faces and have your child imitate and guess the emotion. This can support social and emotional development as some children struggle with knowing what emotions look like on their own face, or on the face of others.
  • Read books that focus on different emotions with your child. Some great ones we use are; The Feelings Series by Tracey Moroney, The Colour Monster by Anna Llenas, The Red Beast by Kay Al-Ghani or The Huge Bag of Worries by Virginia Ironside.
  • Support your child to explore emotions through play. Adding an emotion focus to everyday games, e.g. drawing emotion faces or doing dances for different emotions. Also you might add emotional elements to imaginative play, e.g. caring for a baby doll as it experiences different feelings, wondering about or labelling a toy’s thoughts and feelings; “all the animals went inside without the pig, he is sad because he got left behind”. 
  • Model healthy expression of emotions to your child by labelling your own emotions or offering your own examples in an age-appropriate way, e.g. “I had to speak at a meeting today. I was so nervous I had butterflies in my stomach. Do you ever get butterflies when you’re feeling nervous?”
  • Help your child to label their own emotions and the feelings in their body, e.g. For ‘I can see you squeezing your fists, you look like you are feeling frustrated?’

The first step to learning how to respond effectively to emotions is being able to accurately identify your own emotions. Helping families to make emotion talk a regular part of their routine is an important part of supporting children’s emotional development to flourish. 

Laura Moresi has recently completed the Educational and Developmental registrar program. She is passionate about working collaboratively with families and other professionals to support children and adolescents to reach their best potential. Laura has experience working with a variety of development and mental health concerns.
Laura recognises the importance of strengthening the support systems around a young person and is passionate about working collaboratively with families, schools and other professionals to better understand and support clients throughout the therapeutic process.

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