What’s inside this article: A modified version of Plutchik’s Emotion Wheel that’s suitable for use with children. Includes a few ideas for using the wheel, along with some other resources for teaching children about emotions.
Use this simple wheel of emotions to help your kids learn to identify their feelings.
Did you know that there are actually about 34,000 different human emotions? Yikes.
You can use this emotion wheel as a starting point with children, to help expand their emotive vocabulary.
Being able to recognize emotions is important. Kids who are able to identify what they’re feeling:
- Display fewer behavior problems
- Do better in school
- Are more empathetic and supportive of others
- Develop healthy coping skills and resilience
- Have a positive self-image
- Have positive and stable relationships with others
- Better mental health
Recognizing emotions comes naturally to a lot of children, but for some kids, it’s a big struggle. When that’s the case, they need to be taught how to identify their emotions.
The Zones of Regulation
The Zones of Regulation divides all of the emotional states in the four basic zones. It’s the best way for a struggling child to start learning because there are only 4 zones. It’s incredibly simple.
Once kids have a solid understanding of the four different zones and are able to identify which zone they’re in – it’s easier to move on the teach them the more complex emotions.
This emotion wheel is a helpful transition tool, and it still uses many simple emotive words
The Emotion Wheel
This is an image of the emotion wheel. There is a link at the bottom of the post to download a high-quality PDF that you can use as a visual for the classroom or calm down corner.
Components of Emotional Reactions
There are three components to every single emotion we experience.
What happens in your body?
What is your arousal level? In the Zones of Regulation, each zone actually represents a level of arousal. The emotions that fall into each zone have a similar effect on arousal.
Blue zone is low energy, green is ideal, yellow is slightly elevated and red is extremely high arousal.
There are more specific physiological responses to each emotion. For example, excited and worried both fall into the yellow zone. Both emotions cause an elevated arousal level. However, the two emotions feel very different.
The behavioral response to the emotion.
As mentioned, you experience a similar arousal level when you’re both worried and excited. However, with worry, you may get fidgety and hypervigilant but with excitement, you may be giggly and talk a lot.
This is the conscious experience during the emotional experience. What are you thinking? This includes your thought patterns, how you label the emotion, the speed of your thoughts, etc.
Emotional regulation means you can calm down and cope with your emotions in an appropriate way. It’s mostly about getting back into the green zone. (Although you don’t always need to be in the green zone. There are situations where it’s expected and appropriate to be in the other zones)
Things like walking away from a frustrating situation and returning to talk when you’re calm, or doing deep breathing exercises, watching a funny movie when you’re sad.
These are all examples of emotional regulation strategies.
One of the most effective ways of regulating emotions is by regulating your level of arousal. It’s why the strategies for each of the Zones of Regulation works – because they help bring your body back to a calm state.
The emotion wheel will help you build on these concepts and develop emotional regulation.
It will help you teach kids the link between arousal (zone), emotion, and behavior.
Ways to Use The Emotion Wheel for Kids
There are many different wants you can use this emotional wheel as a teaching tool for kids.
These are just a few ideas.
Social-Emotional Learning Resources
There are lots of social-emotional learning resources available on the blog. Here are some you may like:
- Understand & Coping with Emotions Printable Mega Bundle
- 5 Minute Bio-Feedback Activity for Self Regulation
- Feelings Check-In & Emotion Chart
- Children’s Books about Emotions
- Therapy Games that Teach Emotional Regulation
- The Best Julia Cook Books for Social-Emotional Learning
- Kids Anger Management
Download the Wheel of Emotions
You can get the high-quality PDF version of this emotion wheel to print and use at home or in the classroom.Emotions Wheel