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Emotional development in early childhood - Identifying Emotions

Emotional development in early childhood - Identifying Emotions

Published by Emma on 7th Mar 2019

Emotional development has a big impact on your little one’s behaviour, emotional well being, ability to build relationships and express their emotions in a safe way.

Part of emotional development is being able to recongise and regulate feelings (manage emotions effectively) and recongising the emotions of others.


A great way to learn about feelings is through play. I’ve put together a small list of toys which will help with developing these emotional skills based on ages.


0-6 months - Alice Hide and Seek Puppet

This puppet comes with three finger puppets which each have a different emotion, sad, happy and sleepy. It’s a great chance to copy each emotion by pulling faces. Playing peekaboo will allow for you to act shocked and then happy when the fox appears again.


6-12 months - Jack Roars Feelings Book

Lift each of the flaps to see how each animal is feeling. This is an opportunity to copy each emotion, see if your little one will copy too. Tell the story with the finger puppet helping your little one understand why they might be grumpy or scared.


1-2 years - Little Ambulance Doctor Play Set

Role playing as an ambulance doctor is a fantastic way to learn how others are feeling. Helping your little one build the foundation to have empathy for others.


2-3 years - Jack Puzzle Emotions Matching Game

This puzzle comes with four different emotions, happy, sad, angry and scared. This is a more complex way to learn key emotions. Your little one will have to build the emotion by finding each piece of puzzle, for example, the eyes that are crying and the mouth that is angry.


3+ years - Emotions Memory Game 

Games are a fantastic way to manage feelings, whether it’s frustration, happiness, excitement or anger at losing, it’s an opportunity to experience these in a safe environment where they can learn and embrace them. This memory game has 12 pairs showing a different emotion, so your little can try and identify the emotions, copy them and even make up a story about why each animal is feeling that way.


Below is a list of ways you can promote positive social and emotional development daily, taken from the ‘Early Childhood Mental Health’ website.

  • Lead by example, by modeling positive behaviors
  • Be affectionate
  • Be considerate of feelings, wants and needs
  • Express interest in daily activities
  • Respect their viewpoints
  • Express pride in accomplishments
  • Provide encouragement and support during times of stress

Read more about Social and Emotional Development here.


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