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The toddler stage is an interesting one. Toddlers are small in size but they experience the biggest emotions. They have been absorbing language from the very beginning of their life and are now capable of using that language. And boy do they talk! They are adorable, no doubt. But the tantrums paint a different picture.
This stage in their lives can also be the best opportunity to nurture their emotional intelligence as they start to explore these big feelings. Being equipped with the right knowledge and tools is a great start to navigating this challenging time of tantrums and explosive behavior.
In this article, I would like to share how we use three of our favorite Montessori Nature printables to teach about emotions and to help process them.
A to Z Emotions
We use the A to Z Emotions Cards to start with three emotions at this time: Angry, Happy, Nervous. I like to hang up a few cards at a time on our wall. My 2-year old cannot read yet. So the words under each photo are great ‘environment words’ to expose the children to letters and get familiarized with them even before they can identify phonemes.
My son is at the point when his language abilities are rapidly expanding so I am testing the waters by introducing phonemic awareness, sounding out the first sound of words. So I try to enunciate /a/ when pointing to the word “Angry” in the cards.
Every time my son throws a tantrum, we show him the card ANGRY and ask, “Are you angry?”. I also teasingly say, “Your face looks like this”. I’m surprised that he actually laughs and says the kid’s face is funny. It starts to diffuse the tension – a moment I very much adore.
Emotions and Feelings Pack
I love how different realistic photos were provided for each emotion/feeling in the Emotions and Feelings Pack. It’s a great start to teaching a specific emotion and giving toddlers time to internalize and associate the word with what they’re feeling.
I also love the diversity in the photos. They bring awareness to what the real world looks like. We don’t have much opportunity to travel outside of the country so I really appreciate how this can help my toddler learn about other countries. I am hoping that by giving him exposure to these activities, I can help him create an internal understanding that will foster respect for other cultures apart from our own.
We are currently immersing ourselves in the ‘scared’ photos as my son gets easily scared by the loud sounds of trucks and fireworks or sound effects when we watch movies.
When we have the opportunity to sit down or when the topic arises, I show him all the different photos of children being scared. Then we talk about the things that scare or startle him. He still confuses the two but we’re working on understanding the difference.
The three-part cards are also useful even for a toddler. I gave him the opportunity to explore the photos on his own by leaving the cards on his shelf. I started with the cards “Angry” and “Silly”. Then, after some time, I introduced the words to him “formally” using the three-period lesson.
Putting a label to the feeling of being scared brings awareness to what he’s feeling. This is one of the first steps towards having empathy and emotional intelligence in young children. I see this manifest whenever I get my moments of being overwhelmed and tired. He would ask me if I’m tired. That really warms my heart. He knows this because I ask him if he’s tired when he gets easily angry and frustrated and I know he just needs a nap.
Calm Down Flash Cards
Say what you feel, build a tower and knock it down, find a quiet spot to read a book, create something (my son loves to paint), go on a swing. I love these selections of activities included in the printable that help children calm down. The photos are realistic and beautiful. They really capture my toddler’s attention.
When my toddler gets upset, the first thing I would do is acknowledge his feelings. It can be as simple as, “You’re crying. You seem upset because of so and so”. Mostly, he would nod and then get a bit calmer. I acknowledge his behavior and voice out the reason for his behavior. By doing it I am letting him know that he is heard and it’s totally okay to experience those emotions.
When he gets physical and starts to hit and intentionally throws things at me, I tell him that I will not allow that. “Allow all emotions but not all behavior” is what I always remember from Simone Davies’s book The Montessori Toddler.
When he’s ready to talk, I take the Calm Down cards and suggest to him different ways he can process his emotions without hitting or throwing. These cards have also helped me process my emotions as well. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I try to read or go on a swing too. Letting my child know how I feel and trying out different strategies to calm down is a good way to model what regulating emotions can look like. It sends him the message that it’s normal to feel emotions but that there are ways to process them without aggressive behavior.
Our toddlers are designed beautifully and it is wonderful to nurture every aspect of their development, not just teach them to master academic skills. Academics are very important and valuable but teaching about emotions and fostering good emotion regulation is also a skill in life that will greatly impact their lives.
About the Author
Dahna is a mom to a two-year-old boy that loves to build towers and fix his little cars. She works at home as a Virtual Assistant. Her appreciation for the Montessori method grows deeper by the day. You can find her sharing daily stories of her Montessori work from home life on her Instagram page: https://instagram.com/dahnalaiza
Children’s books about AND PRINTABLES emotions and feelings
Compassion and Peace Preschool Pack Montessori Learning Activities
What Makes Us All Alike - Social Emotional Learning
Feelings and Emotions: 30 Card Sorting Activity and My Book of Feelings
20 Character Building Cards
Silent Noisy Sorting Cards - Montessori Printable
My Word of the Month
Behavior Management and Self Regulation - Task Cards
Emotions and Feelings
A to Z Emotions and Feelings - ABC Cards
Chore Chart Editable In PDF Form for Children
Take a deeper dive into feelings with Accepting Emotions as your guide. The powerful images of people come alive in situations to which kids can relate. Using simple, everyday events lets children focus on the emotions, not just the pictures. In this way your child can begin to notice that there are multiple ways people might experience situations.
Using large, colorful, diverse images of peoples’ faces, Everyday Emotions moves beyond simply identifying feelings to introducing the concept that not everyone reacts the same way in an identical situation. As a result it encourages readers to consider why people might respond in ways that are unlike their own. Let’s say you need to go to the doctor. How would you respond? I’m guessing that many people would have a variety of different reactions. You might dread a certain procedure or be seeking relief for an unidentified pain. Thus, your feelings about going to see a physician will likely differ for each circumstance.
Introduce your child to the concept of feelings with this engaging book. Using pictures of real people expressing emotion, it offers a simple way for kids to talk about their feelings. Let’s face it, there is no class that teaches us about our emotions. Yet, feelings are something we experience every day of our life. By validating your child’s feelings (“You look really sad.”) you are letting the child know that expressing their emotions is acceptable.
Max's Box: Letting Go of Negative Feelings
Max's parents give him a very special gift: a tiny, magical box that will hold everything, from his toys to his feelings. Max learns, however, that feelings can't be put away as easily as toys. Each negative emotion he feels—anger, embarrassment, sadness, loneliness—gets added to the box, which grows and grows. Eventually it is so large that it keeps him from doing what he loves, like riding his bike and climbing trees. With some help from his friends and family, Max is able to turn the box into something beautiful and let it go.
Calm: Mindfulness for Kids
Teach your kids how to focus their thoughts and notice the world around them with this fun mindfulness kids activity book.
Mindfulness activities are a great way to teach children about their thoughts and feelings and how to understand them--while having fun at the same time.
Imagine Meditation Kit for Kids - Award-Winning Mindfulness
Imagine Meditation Kit for Kids offer 24 HUGE Mindfulness scripts and Affirmation Cards for kids with content-rich scripts and vibrant illustrations of Guided Imagery meditations for kids, a Mindfulness breathing exercise to practice before any meditation, and an easy navigation aid to find the right card for any feeling or challenge.
Mood Flip Book - Help Kids to Identify and Manage Their Emotions
''How do I feel?'' ''What can I do?'' This simple tool helps youngsters identify their feelings and accept or cope with intense or difficult emotions.
Facial expressions depict a range of feelings and moods -- from happy to sad, friendly to shy, discouraged to angry, and more -- that can be matched to the child's current state.
The backs of each card suggest several strategies relevant to the feeling or mood, including asking for help, deep breathing, talking, finding a quiet place to calm down, and asking for a turn.
Flipbook displays 24 moods or feelings.
Curious Toddler FEELINGS The Little Book of Big Emotions
The Feelings Book introduces seven essential expressions: happy, sad, angry, excited, scared, silly, and proud.
A kids book on feelings, children's books by age 3-5
Join Jade and her father and see how, in a creative, gentle and empowering way, Jade understands what responsibility means in regarding her toys.
In My Heart: A Book of Feelings
In My Heart explores a full range of emotions, describing how they feel physically, inside, with language that is lyrical but also direct to empower readers to practice articulating and identifying their own emotions.
Thank You Mind: Understanding My Big Feelings on Tricky Days
Thank You Mind also includes meaningful tips for caregivers to help their children learn how awareness, self-compassion, and positive self-talk, can be powerful tools even on the trickiest days.
I Feel Anxious: Children's Picture Book About Overcoming Anxiety For Kids
Ideal for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary school students, I Feel Anxiety explores an important topic in a fun and engaging way, making this book a brilliant tool for any parent who wants to foster healthy emotional growth and development in their child.
Kindness Makes Me Stronger: Children’s Book about Magic of Kindness, Empathy and Respect
Having faced a great challenge our little hero manages to teach his new friends the power of kindness, caring and compassion.
Feelings and Dealings: The ABC's of Emotions: An SEL Storybook to Build Emotional Intelligence, Social Skills, and Empathy
Kids discover a wide range of 26 common emotions which builds empathy, self and other awareness, and interpersonal connection.
Can Quilliam Learn to Control His Temper?
It’s never too early to talk about social and emotional resilience. A list of coping skills, as well as teacher and parent discussion materials on these topics, are included in the back of the book.
When I Get Upset
Telling kids to ”CALM DOWN” rarely works. Find a healthy way to solve the issue and frustration.
Find Your Calm
Anxiety is not just a cognitive experience. When children feel anxious, their bodies respond physically to a perceived threat. They need to feel a sense of safety before being able to figure out what to do next.
Listening to My Body
Listening to my Body is an engaging and interactive book that guides children through the practice of naming their feelings and the physical sensations that accompany them.
I Choose to Calm My Anger
Through colorful illustrations and rhythmic rhymes, he learns coping mechanisms on how to deal with big emotions like anger.
I Like To Be Kind
I Like To Be Kind - this is a fun and cheerful story that inspires children to do good deeds. After reading this charming story, the child will learn what kindness is and how any kind act, big or small, can make us happier.
No More Rules
All preschoolers and young kids sometimes break rules or don't listen. As much as kids enjoy more freedom at home or school, they need enough rules to feel safe and secure.
Kindness is my Superpower
With the perfect examples, this book offers, your child will have more understanding for others, accept diversity, thrive in a multicultural and inclusive environment, and show more empathy.
When I Feel Frustrated
Life doesn't always go as planned. Sometimes we fail and feel frustrated. Help kids develop coping strategies to manage frustration and anger.
My Body Sends a Signal
The book includes a cute story that kids can relate to, beautiful illustrations that capture children's attention, calming-down activities for kids, instructions to adults on the follow-up activities, emotions cards, feelings cards, coloring pages and related short stories to teach kids empathy.
The Kids' Guide to Staying Awesome and In Control
Packed with simple ideas to regulate the emotions and senses, this book will help children tackle difficult feelings head-on and feel awesome and in control!
Let Go of Jealousy
These inviting picture books offer kids a wide range of practical strategies they can use to cope with difficult feelings and situations, such as anger, worry, teasing, and jealousy.
My Attitude of Gratitude
With gentle verses, this book will teach your child to be grateful for what he has, appreciate the warmth of home, and family relationships.