Toddlers and preschoolers have BIG emotions. When they experience Joy it is over-the-top smiles and giggles for days! Fear makes them cover their eyes and crawl into your arms for comfort. Sadness draws out big round tears and the cutest little puffy eyes. And Anger…well…Anger causes balled up fists and an extra loud voice! I want my kids to know that it is ok to experience each of these emotions, but I also want them to learn healthy and appropriate ways of discussing these strong feelings with the people around them. Part of that task means giving them the vocabulary to express how they feel (which can be tough, if not impossible, to teach in a big emotional moment)! When I heard about the Disney movie Inside Out, I knew it would be a great opportunity to foster emotional intelligence in my boys.
We chose to take home the plush toys since they would be safe for toddlers and preschoolers (no small parts to worry about). I kept the toys in a basket at our preschool table where the boys would have easy access to it throughout the day.
When using the Emotions Basket, it’s important that we keep it within easy reach and refer to it regularly. We like to let the characters “watch” our activities while we have conversations about what we’re doing. Another great way to encourage emotional vocabulary is by role-playing high intensity situations to practice how to handle those big emotions before they even start!