Anger Management,  Coping Skills,  Emotions

Emotions Chart for Kids (Printable PDF): How to Use a FEELINGS Chart Effectively

Learn How to Use an Emotions Chart for Kids

Have you considered using an emotions chart or a feelings chart to teach your child about emotions?

Emotions Chart_ How to use a feelings thermometer effectively banner

Being able to identify, label, express and manage feelings play a crucial role in children’s social and emotional development.

Understanding how people feel, they are able to respond appropriately and engage in meaningful relationships.

And when they are able to express their feelings, us parents can guide them or help them to solve problems or develop coping skills.

Some kids find it difficult to identify, label or express feelings. And this is when tools like an emotions chart or a feelings thermometer become very useful allies in our parenting job.

(Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. You can also read our Disclosure & Disclaimer policy here)

What is an Emotions Chart?

An Emotions Chart is a visual resource that features emoticons, pictures or face drawings describing different emotions.

Emotions charts are also known as feelings charts.

Why are Emotion Charts so Popular with Kids?

Emotions Charts are widely used because they provide a simple way to assist kids in:

  • identifying emotions
  • labeling emotions
  • expressing feelings
  • grading the intensity of those feelings

Anger Thermometers / Feelings Thermometer / Anger Scales 

Who can Benefit from Emotions Charts?

All kids can benefit from the help the visual clues emotion charts provide. But they are an essential tool when we work on emotions recognition with kids that:

  • do not communicate verbally
  • have difficulties identifying other people’s emotions or their own
  • have difficulties expressing feeling

What types of Emotions Charts Can I Find?

The Internet is loaded with free resources. You will have to decide if you prefer to use:

  • emoticons
  • real faces
  • drawings or
  • produce your own at home

You can also download the EMOTION CHART (PRINTABLE) that we use at home (link at the end of this post).  

We work with a 5 point scale that helps us communicate feelings and their intensity.

How to Use a Feelings Chart Effectively?

Using a Feelings Chart is not as simple as showing it to your kid and asking him/her about feelings or emotions.

There is some previous work you need to do to ensure you are using this tool effectively.

These are some useful tips that will  help you use your feelings thermometer effectively:

Discuss the feelings faces with your child. Label and describe the feelings in each image.

We use feelings charts with faces (either smileys or children’s illustrations).

Explore with your child the faces in the scale:

  • What does each feelings face represent?
  • How do I look and feel when I am at that level of anger?

We have been working with a 5-point anger scale.

I will describe below what answers we came up with for the questions above. They may give you ideas or prompts you can use while discussing the images.

How does it look and feel at each level?

  1. Emoticon with a big smile: It represents happiness. I´m doing great. I know it because I laugh and smile.
  2. Emoticon with a neutral face. It tells me we are still doing ok. Not as great as before, but still ok
  3. Emoticon with an angry face. It tells me something annoying is happening. It doesn´t feel good. I am starting to get angry. I frown. I don´t feel like smiling anymore.
  4. Emoticon with a very angry face. I´m feeling really angry when I am like that. I may shout. I may also say things that are not nice.
  5. Emoticon with the angriest face. I´m out of control. I´m really mad. I scream. Sometimes I hurt myself or others. I spit. I throw toys. I may destroy things.

Decide with your child what will be the “anger action plan”

The beauty of this tool is that it provides you with an opportunity to work on developing coping skills:

  • Brainstorm with your child activities and strategies that may help him deal with those emotions when he/she reaches each level.
  • Practice your selected strategies when your child is calm and happy
  • Keep practicing!
    Repeated practice facilitates automating these strategies so that your kid is more likely to implement them when she is angry or feeling anxious.

Some examples of calming strategies or anger management activities are:

  • Breathing exercises- For kids I specifically recommend Lazy 8 Breathing, an easy and “portable” breathing exercise that always works wonders for us. You can read more about it in “Breathing Exercises for Kids: Lazy 8 Breathing
  • Moving into another situation – Abandoning the setting where the anger outburst is happening and moving into a calm place or a pleasant activity
  • Physical exercise- “Burning energy” and focusing on a physical activity unrelated to the anger situation (jumping, running)
  • Expressing it through drawing or writing
  • Swapping bad thoughts for good thoughts.
  • Using your imagination. Imagining a calm place, imagining that a shield protects you from your bad thoughts, imagining that you flush your bad thoughts down the toilet.
  • Yoga and mindfulness exercises

If you are interested in helping kids cope with big emotions, I recommend you read my post “Anger Management for Kids“, as it includes a very comprehensive review of tips and strategies, like information on best parenting practices, anger management tips, skills development or calming strategies and tools.

How can YOU Benefit from Using an Emotions Chart? 

I´m going to share our experience, because I´m sure it can (hopefully) become a similar experience for you, too.

For us, it is like a miracle tool.

The emotions chart has become part of our calming routine. Our son starts calming down as soon as he grabs his feelings thermometer with his hand.

Benefits provided by the emotions chart (from our kid´s perspective):

  • It is a comfort cue. He sees the scale and he feels better.
  • He is fully aware now that it provides him with a tool to express how he is feeling.
  • He definitely likes to be able to grade the intensity of his feelings.
  • He often requests the chart, so it has enabled him to take the first step towards self-regulation.
  • It even provides a situation where he is eager to expand on those feelings. He actually loves to share how he moved up and down the 5 point scale and what events or situations make him stay in a level or move between levels.

Related reading: How to build your child’s emotional vocabulary

Additional Tips When Creating and Using an Emotions Chart

You may have already realized that creating an Emotion Chart is not too complicated. If you decide to create your own, just keep in mind the following tips:

  • Create an emotion chart appropriate for your child’s level of development.  If your kid is still learning to differentiate basic emotions you may need to start with a sad face and a happy face.
  • Choose images your kid will love, even from her favorite cartoon characters. You may look for them together online
  • It could also be fun to use your child´s own pictures showing happy and mad faces. This may make the scale more motivating
  • Most importantly, don’t forget that it is not about how nice the chart looks, but about using it effectively:
    • In-depth  work on labeling and describing the emotions is vital
    • Role-play how you act when you feel those emotions
    • Place your feelings chart where you can easily access it, or better where your kids can see it and independently grab it.
  • You can also consider using the following:
    • an anger thermometer: it is a very similar tool but it visually portrays a thermometer 
    • a mood chart: it helps you track different emotions and reflect on their triggers 
EMOTIONS CHART DOWNLOAD your FREE Feelings Thermometer

Other Examples of Emotion Charts.

These are other examples of emotion charts for kids:

  • Happy-Sad Faces
  • Surprise-Angry-Happy-Sad



Great Resources and Tools to Work  on Identifying and Expressing Feelings

These are some resources that you could use at home to help your child identify and express feelings I really like:

  • Emotions Flashcards.
    Emotions flashcards are also often referred to as feelings flashcards.
    Each emotion flashcard presents a visual representation of a specific emotion (pictures, illustrations, pictograms, or emoticons), a label stating the name of that emotion, and a definition or description of the emotion presented.
    An emotion flashcard serves as an aid to learning to identify, label, and even express different emotions.
    Emotions Flashcards with Kids Illustrations
  • My Anger Scale, a collection of 5-point anger scales. My Anger Scale Workbook portrays a wide range of kids characters, making this resource a must-have for school counselors, social workers or psychologists, all over the world.
    5-Point Anger Scales with Assorted Children's Characters_Emotions Charts
  • 50 Fun Feelings Activities for Kids
  • 11 Anger Thermometers (PDF): Anger Thermometer Activities & Templates for Kids
  • Anger Iceberg (Fun Activity for Kids)
  • My Moods, My Choices“, a  flipbook for kids that comes with 20 different moods/emotions. It can help you work with your kids on  identifying feeling and making positive choices
  • I know what to do when I´m feeling..”. This is another flipbook designed to help children identify and respond appropriately to their emotions. It presents 18 different moods/emotions

Printable Feelings Chart (PDF Download)

Download your free printable feelings chart⇓

I hope you found this post useful. If so, please share us! ♥

You can also check my Pinterest board to get some “Emotion Charts” inspiration.

Emotions Chart (Printable): How to Use a Feelings Thermometer Effectively

EMOTIONS CHART_HOW TO USE A FEELINGS THERMOMETER effectively PIN1newEmotions Chart: How to Use an Emotions Chart Effectively



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *