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How to Explain Emotion to a Child - A Parent's Guide

How to Explain Emotion to a Child - A Parent's Guide

Every child is unique and has different emotions. You need to be understanding and patient when trying to explain your child's emotions. Try not to use too much jargon or acronyms when explaining them. When you do, it might make the child feel uncomfortable or like they are not being heard.This article will help you how to explain emotions to a child.

What are the different types of emotion?

There are several different categories that psychologists have created to describe different types of emotion. The five main types of emotion are happiness, sadness, fear, and love. There are also a few subcategories that are important to note, including irritation, disgust, and surprise.

When and How to Explain Emotion

When it comes to explaining emotions to children, it is best to do so during a time when they are open and understanding. However, if the child is too young or confused at the moment, you should consider waiting until they are at least five years old in order for them to have a better understanding of emotions and how they relate to certain behaviors and changes in appearance.

When explaining emotions to a child, it is important to consider the following:

    • Explain emotions using specific words that your child understands. 
    • Make sure to use words that your child is familiar with and understand them well. Avoid using unfamiliar or difficult-to-understand words to describe emotions, as this may confuse them.
    • Avoid giving negative examples - instead, use familiar expressions that your child can understand (e.g., "I feel upset", "It makes me sad"), and give positive examples where possible (e.g., how you are feeling right now).
    • Explain how emotions are different from things, such as cars and planes, and why those things don’t have emotions.
    • Discuss how emotions can change over time, and why.
    • Be patient. Your child will notice that you are trying to explain emotions to them, and they might reject the idea. Remember, they are mature enough to understand the concepts, but not yet ready to put them into practice.


Understanding your child's emotions is important for relationships, health, and parenting. Learning to understand your child's emotions will help you communicate better, connect more deeply, and be better able to predict how your child will act in certain situations. Knowing more about your child's emotions can also help you identify your child's strengths and help you build upon those by teaching them new techniques.


The image below is a identification guide that can help you teach your child about the emotion. Click the image To download it.

free downalod identifying emotions worksheet

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