I know, from being a parent, how hard it is sometimes for children to understand how they’re feeling, to express themselves when they are experiencing a range of emotions and to even know how to deal with how they are feeling. There have been times when LP and Little Man have been so full of emotion where they have just broken down – screaming, crying, sobbing – because they don’t know what they’re feeling, how to deal with it or how to explain to Dave or I what is going on inside them.
We were recently sent a set of books created by Katie Flanagan that aim to help children understand their emotions and be able to work through how they are feeling. The books are a Feelings Journal and What Am I Feeling? Defining Emotions – both of which have matching bright and colourful illustrations on the covers which helped the children immediately warm to the books.
The What Am I Feeling? Defining Emotions book starts with a little about emotional literacy – being able to know, understand, voice and process our emotions. The book aims to help children learn emotional literacy to help them have more positive relationships with those around them. It’s something that can have a really great positive impact on children, helping their self-esteem, mental health, independence and resilience when it comes to everything that life throws at them along the way.
The book gives parents ideas about how to talk to children about their emotions and really helps to open up discussions between adults and children. The book has so many tips – teaching children about their facial expressions or reading other people’s expressions, helping children to understand their feelings when they are feeling more than one emotion and recognising emotions in other people.
The main part of the book shows children a range of emotions, with beautiful illustrations and each emotion dedicated to two full pages in the book. Each emotion has a facial expression associated with it as well as an activity – so happy would be a smiley face and playing with friends. Sad would be a sad face and losing a favourite toy.
We have never read a book like this with the children before – usually sticking to story books but the children really liked the illustrations and they loved how interactive the book was. We would talk about an emotion and before moving on to the next page we would ask them to make their own happy, sad or angry faces and talk about times when they have felt like that in the past.
The book also taught the children different words for the same emotion – being cross or annoyed instead of just angry or being down or upset instead of sad. The book really helped to widen the children’s vocabulary where emotions are concerned and by the end of the book the children knew so many more emotions and they knew that every one of their feelings was valid, normal and something everyone experiences.
The Feelings Journal is a bigger format book with space for children – or their carer – to write, draw and make notes. But, this journal would also work well in a classroom where you could photocopy pages as and when you needed them to use with more children at once.
The journal gives children the chance to really think about their emotions, what they feel at different times and working out what triggers the emotions. From there they can then work out how to process their feelings in a positive way and develop their emotional literacy skills more fully.
When I’ve sat with LP and Little Man and looked through the journal it’s given them a great time to reflect on how they’ve been feeling. It’s also made them more aware of their feelings and the behaviours that they automatically associate with those feelings – like LP will always say that she’s moody or quiet because she is tired.
The journal is a great resource for taking time to help children look at their emotions and to explain to them that all of their emotions are normal. The journal has lots of information around each emotion to help you explain to children how they are feeling and how to turn those emotions into a more positive feeling.
The book and journal compliment each other perfectly and I think they could be great tools for any family home or anywhere care is given to children – schools, nurseries etc. Some children definitely find it harder than others to talk about their emotions and having books like this can really help children to understand and process how they are feeling. Both books are great to add to a regular routine but they could also be used in the midst of an emotion, for the child to explain exactly how they are feeling at that very moment. I know that I’ll be reading these books with LP and Little Man regularly in the future and they would make a great investment for any family home.
What Am I Feeling? Defining Emotions has an RRP of £6.99 and the Feelings Journal has an RRP of £7.99
Disclosure: We were sent the above books for the purpose of this review and compensated for our time however all opinions are my own.