Keen to support your child’s social, emotional, and mental wellbeing? Teaching your child how to manage emotions begins with a conversation. Here’s the best children’s books to help you find the right words together.
For such tiny beings, little kids carry big feelings.
A tad too big for their vocabulary to handle.
For toddlers, managing emotions looks like tears, tantrums, and very little clear communication – much to your (understandable) frustration.
But beneath the confusion and exasperation, you get it.
Even as grown-ups, emotions are… complicated.
So, how do you explain emotion to a child?
It starts with finding the right words.
And children’s books about feelings are an excellent place to find them.
That’s why we’re teaming up with Bloomsbury Children’s Books for Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week to bring you picture books with big benefits for your child’s emotional development.
Ready to teach your kiddo how to manage emotions?
Let’s start the conversation.
In this article: 📝
- Why is it important to teach children about emotions?
- How do I teach my child to identify emotions?
- What are the five benefits of children’s well-developed emotional skills?
- Why are books important for a child’s emotional development?
Why is it important to teach children about emotions?
Experiencing different emotions is a natural part of being human.
But identifying and expressing emotions?
Not so much.
And this is important because a recent poll released by Comic Relief revealed that 54% of parents are worried about their child’s mental health, and 71% don’t believe there’s enough mental health support available.
So, how do you promote wellbeing in children?
A big part is understanding the emotions at work underneath negative feelings and conditions like anxiety or depression.
Which is why emotional intelligence is one of the best skills your children can develop.
And what is emotional intelligence exactly?
It’s the ability to see, use, and manage your emotions proactively.
Not only is learning how to identify emotions and manage them an essential part of childhood emotional development, studies show that it leads to better wellbeing, higher income, and healthier, happier relationships.
All the good stuff!
How do I teach my child to identify emotions?
So we know kids who understand emotions have a better chance of managing them.
But before they can identify emotions, they first need to have the words.
And that begins at home in conversations with you.
Encouraging your child to name their feelings and talk about them are essential steps in the journey towards managing emotions healthily.
But let’s face it, things like jealousy, anxiety, and self-acceptance can be complicated issues to unpack for a young child.
It can be challenging for most adults!
This is where children’s books about feelings are so beneficial – especially when it comes to labeling complex children’s emotions.
Here’s how to teach emotional intelligence with a little help from your child’s bookshelf:
Labeling complex emotions with Big Bright Feelings
For young children, big emotions can feel scary.
It’s easy to understand feeling sad or happy, but what about the different feelings that come with trying to make friends, losing your temper, or anxiety?
Tom Percival’s Big Bright Feelings series transforms these complex emotions into diverse characters that your child can easily relate to – developing their emotional intelligence in the process.
Each book acts as a nifty entry point into difficult conversations, exploring ‘negative’ feelings in a gentle, reassuring way.
From the green-eyed monster in Milo’s Monster to the expanding worry in Ruby’s Worry, children can begin the first steps of identifying emotion.
Even better, they can learn how to name them and manage them.
Not bad for storytime eh?
Kickstart your kiddo’s journey towards peek EQ with a dive into honesty courtesy of Finn’s Little Fibs.
Learning how to manage emotions with Let’s Talk
Recognizing an emotion is one thing, but learning how to communicate it is what will ensure your child can manage any emotional state comfortably.
Molly Potter’s Let’s Talk picture book series is excellent for helping your child process a range of different emotions, covering topics like relationships, diversity (The Same but Different), mental health (What’s Worrying You? and How Are You Feeling Now?), and even the trickier parts of friendships (Will You Be My Friend?).
How Are You Feeling Today? is a solid first pick to begin teaching your child better coping strategies to put in their growing toolbox.
This vibrant little book breaks down 12 everyday emotions – including excitement, embarrassment, anger, and boredom – and provides your kiddo with fun ideas for moving through them.
Your child will love the engaging illustrations and simple language while you reap the rewards of expert-approved advice.
That includes helpful notes on the back to support you with even more ideas for helping your child process these complicated emotions.
It’s the perfect balance between soft storytelling and parent-focused guides minus the awkward pauses.
Great news for parents who want to foster open conversations with their children.
What are the five benefits of children’s well-developed emotional skills?
Emotional health is a person’s ability to express feelings appropriately.
And that comes with increased self-awareness, self-confidence, and empathy – all the signs of high emotional intelligence.
As you can imagine, these spill over into so many areas of your child’s life and for the better too.
Here are the benefits of well-developed emotional skills for children’s mental health:
1. Reduced anxiety, depression, and other health problems
Let’s start with the biggest worry for parents today: anxiety and depression.
Anxiety is best understood as an overwhelm of negative feelings, often masking unnamed emotions.
It can be mild or severe and includes feelings of dread, fear, worry, and unease.
Well-developed emotional intelligence has been known to greatly reduce emotional distress.
And it makes sense when we see how children’s books like the Let’s Talk series provide the language and tools to move through difficult feelings no matter the context.
2. Helps children form better relationships
When you can identify and manage emotions well, knowing how to communicate them to others is only a short step away.
Through books, children can learn how to recognize the emotions in others.
They also learn a rich vocabulary for reaching out and supporting friends, siblings, and in time future partners.
3. Better emotional control
Self-regulation is a key step to learning how to control emotions.
And this is not just about keeping outbursts to a minimum (though that’s certainly a perk).
Emotions form the heart of decision-making.
By being able to control their emotions, children are less likely to be impulsive and tend to have longer attention spans.
They’ll also cope better when life throws them for a loop.
We can see you reaching for the books already!
4. Better academic performance
With all this impulse control and emotional regulation flying around, it’s unsurprising that children with high emotional intelligence do well in school.
The academic world can be a stressful environment.
Add in relationships and peer pressure, and it’s no wonder your child’s performance can suffer.
Knowing how to manage emotions will allow them to better handle things like anxiety, boredom, or even disappointment without spiralling.
Bounce back guaranteed!
5. Empathy for days
Empathy and wellbeing go hand in hand.
It is the foundation for healthy relationships, quality leadership, better productivity, enriching social connections, and mental health.
Empathy is what helps your child relate to others, show kindness, and communicate well.
It also does wonders for self-worth.
And one of the best ways to improve empathy?
Picture books like the Big Bright Feelings series.
More on that below.
Why are books important for a child’s emotional development?
With their pretty pictures and clear language, children’s books offer a safe, inviting space to explore scary emotions.
It’s the power of imagination.
But also representation.
Picture books like Big Bright Feelings show children that they’re not alone and that even the most distressful sensations have a happy ending.
There’s also studies that show that reading enhances empathy – kind of ideal if you want your kiddo hitting the high EQ note.
It’s a little something to do with being able to see from someone else’s perspective.
Even if that someone else is entirely fictional.
And while children’s books like the Let’s Talk series cover big conversations, their dip-in-and-out format and bite-sized advice allow your child to absorb the information in a less stressed state.
If you consider that a 30-minute reading session can provide the same stress relief as a 30-minute yoga session (seriously), it’s no wonder that books do wonders for your child’s emotional development.
Learning how to process emotions is a lot easier when you’re a few sentences shy of optimum zen.
All the more reason to turn storytime into something meaningful.
At Peanut, we know a thing or two about turning difficult conversations into meaningful discussions with long-term relief.
We also know the benefits of sharing distressing feelings for mental health and wellbeing.
It may take work to know how to manage emotions, but your child doesn’t have to learn it alone.
And neither do you.
Learn more about how Big Bright Feelings and Let’s Talk can help you better equip your children with the words and self-awareness they need to grow emotional intelligence with Bloomsbury Children’s Books.
The stories are always flowing.
Happy reading, mama!