Playing With Emotions

*Make sure you read ALL THE WAY to the end because there’s a freebie for you!!!

Back in the day (which means oh, like 7 years ago or so) when I was working on my masters degree in Early Childhood Ed. (fancy huh?), I wrote a research paper on empathy.  While working on that paper I found lots and lots of research that supported the fact that empathy is a crucial part of raising an emotionally intelligent child. Recently I also found some great info at

Empathy is a bit different, and deeper than sympathy.  Being sympathetic means to feel sorry for someone and want to see them feel better, but to be empathetic means to feel for that person by sharing the feelings they are having. It is a much deeper connection with the other person.

I saw this research backed up in the social/emotional curriculum that I used to teach in Kindergarten. The basis behind the curriculum was that in order to be empathetic, the very first step, above all others, was to be able to identify feelings: reading a friend’s face, body language, and gestures to be able to name the emotion that they are feeling.  Only then, can a child identify with them and feel the same.

SO fast forward to my son.  He is 19 months old and is just stepping (literally) out into the world.  Because I can’t help but think ahead (I am one of those planners…yuck huh?), I wanted to start out P-buddy with a grasp on his emotions and others.

Emotion cards for toddlers (and beyond!)

Emotion cards for toddlers

What better way than to first learn what all those emotions are! I created some emotions cards, and strangely he loves them!  It might have something to do with the fact that they are magnetic and are right next to his magnetic animals that he loves.  Either way, he plays with them!

Emotion cards for toddlers

Hard at “play”

Right now we just name the emotions as he hands them to us, or we have him find one of the emotions for us.  We have also started naming some emotions we see in the books we read, and talk about their faces (smiling, tears coming down, fists clenched, etc.).

Emotion cards for toddlers

His “surprised” look

Emotion cards for toddlers

His “scared” look

I figure we might as well start him out young!

If you are interested in making the same magnets, I have uploaded them for you for FREE!

  • click the download button
  • cut the pictures out (microsoft word pictures)
  • laminate
  • put a sticky magnet on the back
  • voila!

Click here to download the emotion pictures!!!
download button

How have you been teaching your child about emotions?

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