Emotions & Self-Awareness How to Help Your Six-Year-Old Understand and Manage Emotions

Emotional self-awareness involves identifying and understanding one’s emotions – including “big feelings” that can sometimes overwhelm us. Six-year-olds can begin to understand and identify more complex emotions. While preschoolers may only know the word “mad,” at this age you can help kids differentiate between angry, frustrated, annoyed and disappointed – and what types of situations may cause a person to feel a certain way. They can also understand that they may have more than one feeling at the same time. 

Help your child manage complex emotions:

Read Aloud

Books are a powerful tool for helping kids identify what feelings can look like, and can help them begin to connect their feelings to the feelings of others. While reading, stop when an emotional event occurs and talk about how a character is feeling and why. Help them draw connections between what they read and their own life. For example, "She was scared when she got lost at the fair. Have you ever felt scared like that?"


Naming feelings and talking about them can help children feel more in control and less scared. Print and play this game to give your child a chance to talk about different kinds of feelings.

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Introduce More Complex Emotions

Continue to build children's emotional vocabulary by introducing more complex, nuanced emotions such as frustration, loneliness, grief, jealousy, anticipation, wonder, gratitude, hope and peace. When you see them experiencing one of these emotions, share your observation: "It's been two weeks since your friend moved away. Are you feeling lonely?" Use specific words to describe your own emotions so that children see that everyone has feelings: "When I sit outside and listen to the birds, it helps me feel peaceful"; or "I felt really frustrated today when I couldn't find some papers that I needed for work."

Help Your Child Manage Emotions with Arthur

Whether facing down a bully, worrying about a new teacher or being the very last person on earth to lose his baby teeth, Arthur and his friends manage to solve their crises with imagination, kindness and a lot of humor.

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Activity Finder: Learn With Your Six-Year-Old

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