Helping children learn to recognise and cope overwhelming emotions is an ongoing process that certainly doesn’t stop when they enter primary or elementary school, in fact I would say emotional regulation becomes even more important in the vast social network of school. Teaching children emotional regulation involves helping them to identify what triggers big feelings, how their body feels as it responds and what they can do in the moment and this printable My Emotions Wheel is a great tool for doing just that.
Introducing My Emotions Wheel
There are three versions of the printable included below – from a simple 4 piece wheel to a more complex 8 piece version. Choose the one that best suits the age and developmental level of the child/ren you are working with.
As you introduce the wheel talk about the fact that all emotions are helpful, even the big and overwhelming ones and that making an emotions wheel can help us to identify how we are feeling at any given time. Talk through each of the emotions on the wheel. Identify;
- What is this emotion? How does our body feel when we feel angry/sad/happy? How does our face look?
- Can you share an example of a time that you felt angry/sad/happy?
- Can you draw a picture of that memory in this part of the wheel?
Repeat for each section of the wheel.
Alternatively, you could ask your child to draw their face when they feel each emotion. Or to draw or write how their body reacts to that emotion.
Ways to Use Your Completed Emotions Wheel
1. For parents, use the wheel as you talk with your child about their day, especially if they have been away from you at school. As they debrief talk about how they felt during the experiences they share. Label their emotions by referring to the wheel and the past experiences they have recorded there.
2. Develop empathy by referring to the wheel as you discuss how others may have felt in a situation/book/movie that you are discussing.
3. At home, hang the wheel as a check in point for each family member to indicate how they feel about their day as you gather at the end of the day. This is a great way of opening conversation between family members about their individual experiences during time apart.
4. Choose an emotion and then sing a familiar song (Happy Birthday works well) in a voice representing that emotion. Experiment with a range of voices to represent a range of emotions.
5. Talk about and model together how your face looks when you feel each emotion on the wheel. For example, “I feel angry when my friends won’t wait for me and my mouth turns down, my forehead crinkles and my teeth clench.”
To download your poster: Click on your chosen poster image below – there are three versions for you to choose from. This will open a PDF file that you can download to your own computer. Open the PDF and print. When printing, select “Fit to printable area” (or similar) to ensure the page fits with your printer type and local paper size (these have been created at A4 size). Personal, non commercial use only.