How to Talk About Feelings:
The Feelings Fishing Game
Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi from Pexels
Learning how to talk about, share, and hear feelings is an essential skill.
By talking about emotions every day, children naturally learn to manage their emotions. By introducing a wide range of feelings words to your child during every day conversation, he will learn how to recognize and share his own feelings and to care about the feelings of others.
That being said, it doesn’t hurt to add in some games that make learning about feelings a fun activity! Here are the instructions for Feelings Fishing, a super simple and fun way to add more feelings words to your routine.
This game can be adjusted to suit many ages.
- List of feelings words or faces cut into strips (download the attached list and print them out or just write in your own words or draw your own faces)
- Paper clips
- Fishing pole (tie one end of a string to a stick and attach a magnet to the other end of the string to make the fishing pole)
To start, download and print out the attached list of feelings words. Cut them all out, either into strips, or if you are feeling ambitious, into fish shapes. I have always used simple strips and no kid has ever complained that the fish aren’t fish shaped! Attach a paper clip to the end of each strip. When I first started playing this game at home I used a short stick from the back yard tied to a piece of string with a magnet from the refrigerator on the end. It worked just fine (as long as you lay down the ground rules up front about not swinging it around!). I eventually switched to a plastic toy fishing pole. Honestly, the stick and string worked just fine and was less distracting.
To play Feelings Fishing choose a few of the feelings words. For younger kids or for kids who are just starting with feelings words use words they have already encountered. As your child gets more comfortable using feelings words periodically add a new fish to the pond.
Place the fish on the floor. Encourage your child to catch a fish with the magnet at the end of the fishing line. Have the child read the feeling word they have caught. For younger children you can read them the word or have them identify the first letter in the word. Alternately, you can use the feelings faces pictures.
Ask your child questions about the feeling word. Mix it up. Use lots of different kinds of questions. You could try:
- what does _______ mean?
- have you ever felt ______?
- when do people feel ______?
- when was the last time you felt ______?
- how can you tell when someone is ______?
- tell me a story about someone who feels _____?
- what happens when I feel ______?
The key here is to keep it light and fun. Watch your child for cues that they are engaged, interested, and enjoying the activity. Don’t feel like they have to answer every question or catch every fish. If your child seems unsure how to talk about the feelings that’s okay! Just by introducing the vocabulary and making talking about feelings a regular part of the day your child will benefit.
Free printable: Feelings Fish and Faces