books that help your toddler understand emotions

August 5, 2009

When I Care About Others and When I Feel Scared by Cornelia Maude Spelman, Illustrated by Kathy Parkinson

When I saw these at the library, I didn't have much hope that they would be very good--but I was pleasantly surprised. I tend to like books that are good stories. When they start to be overly obvious about a "lesson" they are trying to teach, I get put off. 

These are obviously trying to help kids understand emotions, but they do it in a palatable way. Juliet was very into these books and even requested them several times without me even bringing it up as a suggestion. One day, I asked her what book she wanted to read and she said, "the broken one." I had no idea what that meant until later that day when I picked up When I Care About Others and noticed the page where the bear is crying because he broke his toy airplane. Juliet pointed at it and said, "Oh no! He broke his airplane! He is sad." That's when I realized how good these books really were. 

Toddlers often struggle with identifying their emotions and these books provide a great opportunity for parents to have meaningful discussions about feelings. It's a lot easier to talk about being scared when you are looking at a picture of a character who is afraid of storms than when it is actually storming outside and your child is crying because she is afraid of the thunder. 

I found that Juliet really enjoyed talking about being scared, sad, and happy. I noticed that throughout the week she has been informing me at moments when she is happy--something she has never done before. 

There are several other books in this series, but I haven't checked them out yet. 
Here are some sites that you may find useful to help teach your child about his emotions: 

Dealing With Feelings--parent guide: find activities and 11 ways to encourage emotional expression

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