Feeling big emotions goes along with being human, and especially when you are 3 or 4! Children this age are just beginning to learn how to manage their feelings, and rely on the responsiveness of the adult (parent, teacher, caregiver) for guidance. Knowing your feelings, and being able to name them is the first step in taming them.

The Tenants of Co-Regulation

Chime ExerciseCo-regulation is a way of communicating with the child that helps her make sense of her emotions and can help her learn that feelings matter and that there are ways to manage them.

  • Staying calm when a child is overwhelmed helps contain the child’s emotion.
  • Naming emotions when a child has them can tame them.
  • Talking about your feelings and how you manage them can help kids develop their strategies.
  • Activities that give emotions shape, color, a place in our body, or a way to be expressed in a breath allows children to experience their feelings in many ways. They learn to be aware of and identify their emotions, that they are not permanent but change as we go through the day, and that we can be in charge of managing those feelings.

Feelings Awareness Lesson

Feelings AwarenessExercises:


  • Any Storybook
  • Cutout Pictures of Children Displaying Different Emotions
  • Poster Board
  • Reusable Name Cards
  • Feelings/Body Sheet
  • Creature Sheet
  • Crayons

Goals of this Lesson:

  1. Children will be able to identify feelings based on facial expressions.
  2. Children will learn to experience their emotions in their body, through different body postures.
  3. Children will develop images of feelings, where they are in their body, and how to diminish them.
  4. Adults will learn what their role is in assisting children to identify and manage their emotional and physical states using co-regulation.

Let's Start the Lesson:

Introduce emotion concepts during story time or activity time using pictures and facial expressions in the book to help children better understand the connection between feelings and self-expression. In any storybook you are reading, ask children to identify how the characters are feeling. Ask them how they know that.

FocusedKids for Teachers – Classroom CurriculumMake a Feelings Chart:

Create a feelings chart using a large poster board and cut out children’s faces of different emotions you want the children to learn. We start with mad, sad, happy, scared, silly, and excited. Give each child an adhesive name tag with his or her name on it. Allow each child to place their name below the feeling on the chart they are experiencing. Have them show that emotion on their face, and invite them to share why they are feeling this way. Ask the rest of the class to make the same feeling face. Repeat for each child.

What We Learned Today

We learned to name our emotions, and where they occur in our body. We gave them shape and color, song, and even “acted” them out. We created a creature to represent a big feeling and learned how to help when it shows up. We learned we could release feelings from the 'feelings container' to make room for more.

Integrating the Lesson

Each day: Help the child put feeling words into context when he is experiencing any emotional moment. For example, you might say, "You are excited about that puppy," or "You feel frustrated with this puzzle right now.” By learning to name the feeling, they are on their way to taming it! They are beginning to be able to identify their emotions as well as those of others.

Additional Resources

Ready To Get Started?

Head to the Curriculum for Parents and Teachers Next.