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Talking about Feelings with Preschoolers

happy young child learning from social emotional curriculum in preschool

Social emotional skill-building is an important component of an early childhood curriculum. Helping little ones learn to recognize, understand, and regulate their emotions prepares them for kindergarten and helps set them up for ongoing academic and life success! In this article, we share information about early social emotional skills as well as some fun children’s books with activities you can try with the little ones in your care.

The Importance of Recognizing Emotions

Once children learn to recognize their different emotions, they can begin to connect those emotions to the way they feel in their bodies. Caregivers can help children build upon this awareness by offering tools children can use to respond to and manage their feelings. 

An article from Penn State for early childhood professionals explains: “Just like adults, children need to develop strategies for managing their emotions so that they can build social-emotional skills. When children are more socially and emotionally aware and skilled, they can more effectively navigate relationships, calm down, and problem solve when challenges arise.”

Sparking Conversations about Feelings

By inviting children to engage in conversations about the variety of feelings they experience, early care and learning providers play a special role in helping children learn to understand and become more in tune with their emotions. You might encourage conversation by inviting children to give names to their feelings and emotions or encouraging them to think about the cause of a specific emotion. These supportive conversations can help children anticipate feelings that might come up during certain types of situations and interactions, and explore strategies to regulate their uncomfortable emotions.

Children’s Books:  Stories about Feelings and Mindfulness

Below, you will find several books about feelings, emotions, and self-regulation for preschoolers and young children. These books, also available via online video, offer wonderful opportunities to introduce conversations about feelings with the children in your care. Many of the stories include mindfulness activities that you might enjoy practicing together as you read along! 

Little Red Fox Has Feelings 

little red fox has feelings, a book for social emotional curriculum in preschool

This simple story, written by Didi Dragon and illustrated by Maria Mau, uses simple, kid-friendly language to talk about all of the different emotions that a little fox experiences. The book highlights how, even when our feelings are out of control, we do have the ability to control how we act. It also highlights some of the things we can do to calm down when we are feeling upset or overwhelmed. 

Find this book at your local library, or enjoy it via this free read-aloud video

The Boy with Big, Big Feelings

SEL for preschool can happen using the book The Boy with Big, Big Feelings

This story, written by Britney Winn Lee and illustrated by Jacob Souva, tells the story of a young boy who is extra sensitive and experiences really big feelings. Throughout the book, he finds friends who have similar feelings and he learns that his feelings are something to be celebrated. 

Find this book at your local library, or enjoy it via this 

free read-aloud video

My Body Is a Rainbow: The Color of My Feelings

The Children's book My Body is a Rainbow and be used for social emotional learning for preschool

This children’s book, written by Mallika Chopra and illustrated by Izzy Burton, explores how different emotions can feel in our bodies. The story demonstrates that it can be helpful to use colors to understand our feelings. The author explains that breathing can also help us manage big feelings and calm our bodies when they feel overwhelmed. 

Find this book at your local library, or enjoy it via this free read-aloud video

Be Mindful of Monsters

Chilidren's book Be Mindful of Monsters is a story that can support social emotional learning for preschool age children

This children’s book, written by play therapist Lauren Stockly and illustrated by Ellen Surrey, tells the story of a young child who is learning to manage big feelings – even the uncomfortable ones, from fear to sadness. The story highlights the importance of acknowledging our feelings, rather than ignoring them and holding them inside. The author also shares tips for dealing with big feelings, such as practicing mindfulness, getting a good night’s sleep, and talking about our experiences. 

Find this book at your local library, or enjoy it via this free read-aloud video

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