Posted in Behavior, Emotions, Indoor Play, Positive Parenting, School, Social Skills, Therapy

Helping Kids Manage Emotions – PIE Approach, Activities, Children’s Book List and Positive Reinforcement Statements (free printables)


On any given day parents might be faced with temper tantrums, angry stumping, door slamming, or the silent treatment (typical among teenagers).  Helping children appropriately manage and express their feelings is an important part of everyday parenting. In fact, emotional regulation is essential for children’s overall wellbeing.  As parents, we can teach our children to handle their emotions in ways that validates their feelings, while fostering healthy interactions with the world.

Emotional Regulation

Emotional regulation is a fancy term used to describe the ability to process and express a range of emotions, and react in appropriate ways in emotional situations.  Emotional regulation is often conceptualized as a set of skills that can be taught and learned.  The ability to appropriately handle emotions can impact children’s social, emotional and cognitive development. For example: Children with good emotional regulation skills:

  • Are able to experience, express and manage a range of emotions
  • Adjust well to transitions and new situations
  • Engage in appropriate behaviors in response to emotional situations
  • Show a high tolerance for frustration

Children with poor emotional regulation skills:

  • May exhibit a limited range of emotions
  • Have difficulties coping with stressful experiences
  • May engage in outbursts of negative emotions
  • May show aggressive or ego-centric behaviors (depending on their age)
  • Are less socially competent, in general
  • Are often less successful in school — they show difficulties learning, and are less productive in the classroom.

Parents as Teachers:  The PIE Approach

Parents can effectively teach their children to manage their emotions by helping them to process, identify and appropriately express their emotions.  This  is known as the PIE approach.  Over the years, I have found it to be quite helpful.

1→ Help Your Child Process Her Feelings

How many times have you asked your school age child, “how do you feel about that…?” and gotten a completely blank look?  Often, young and older children (including adolescents) are unaware of their feelings because they fail to appropriately process their reaction to an emotional situation. You can help your child get in touch with his feelings by asking questions like “What did you feel when your friend made fun of you in front of the class?” or by offering: “I would have felt angry if my teacher had hollered at me that way.”  Encouraging children to openly discuss the emotionally arousing situation can also help process what they’re feeling.

2 → Help Your Child Identify The Feeling

Identifying and labeling emotions is an important component of emotional regulation. Children who have a large vocabulary of names for feelings are better able to express their emotions using language, rather than behaviors.  As early as two years old, children are able to learn names of feelings.  The following tips are helpful tips:

  • Name your feelings game: Use games or creative ways to teach your child the names of a range of emotions.
  • Use your words: Redirect negative behaviors and remind your child to use words to explain what they are feeling and need.
  • Suggest phrases: Provide examples of phrases your child can effectively use in emotional situations, such as “I was playing with that toy, can I have it back?”
  • Use Books: There are wonderful books that focus on dealing with emotions, for children of all ages.  These books offer opportunities to discuss emotions from a safe distance.
  • Use Posters with Emotions Faces: These posters help children learn how to recognize other people’s emotions and facial expressions, an important component to identifying emotions in others and in oneself.

3 → Help Your Child Appropriately Express Feelings

Children fail to express their emotions verbally because they lack the vocabulary, or are too emotional to use them, or are afraid of expressing them.  Here are some helpful tips and exercises:

  • Give permission to feel and express emotions:  Children need to feel they are safe in feeling and expressing negative emotions, especially with shy children.
  • Show and Tell: Guide your child and show them how they can express their feelings.  Use examples, phrases and scenarios.
  • Use Art: Encourage your child to draw, color or sculpt their feelings.
  • Encourage Writing: The simple act of writing down their feelings is a powerful way to express emotions, especially in older children.  Use poetry, song writing or short-stories.
  • Be a Role Model: As with everything else, parents are powerful role models to their children. Practicing responsible emotional management is a fundamental part of teaching your child the life-long valued skill of handling emotions.

FREE printable handout with Some Starters for Giving Positive Feedback and Encouragement to your kids! Download and print here: 3

FREE Resources to help you Teach Social Emotional Skills to Kids:

Emotional Vocabulary Activities

DSCN0899_edited-1Emotion Cube- Print drawings of children’s faces representing different emotions. Glue the faces and feeling words you want to teach on the six sides of a small box (a collapsible gift box works well). Have children toss the box (as if tossing a die), and when it settles, read the feeling word for the face on top or have the children identify the feeling. Ask the children to remember a time they felt that way, or ask them to imitate the expression in the drawing.

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpgFeelings Wheel- Print the pictures representing feeling words and paste them on a game spinner board. (download and print feelings wheel) Have a child spin the spinner, identify the feeling it points to, and talk about a time he or she experienced the feeling. Children can also use the spinner to point to an emotion that a character in a story may feel.


Family Feelings Book—Create a family book of feeling words using photographs you’ve taken of family members demonstrating feelings. The book can be about one feeling or many. For individual children you can make books about one feeling—having the child provide the text by talking about what triggers the emotion—or many feelings.


Feelings Chart Check-in board—Create a check-in board where children place a clothespin next to a feeling picture. Follow up with children, talking with them about the emotion they chose and the circumstances related to their feelings. As the day progresses and feelings change, you can facilitate  children’s changing the placement of their clothespin to indicate their new feelings.


Feelings Puppets—Children can create puppets that discuss feelings and role play classroom situations. Print pictures of a  variety of feeling faces and give children each a set of faces with Velcro tabs to attach interchangeably on their puppet’s face. Children can complete the puppet by adding hair and clothing.

Bingo—Children can play bingo using feeling pictures in place of the traditional numbers. When you pull a card with a feeling picture out of a bag, ask the children to identify the feeling, make the expression on their faces, and then place a marker on the appropriate face on their bingo card.

Thinking about emotions during story time—While reading children’s books, stop periodically and ask the children what a character is feeling. You may wish to have a chart of feeling pictures for the children to scan or point to when responding.

Children’s Book List to Support Social Emotional Development

Download Printable File of list here: booklist

Being a Friend

A Rainbow of Friends by P.K. Hallinan (Ages 4-8)
Best Friends by Charlotte Labaronne (Ages 3-5)
Can You Be a Friend? by Nita Everly (Ages 3-6)
Can You Talk to Your Friends? by Nita Everly (Ages 3-6)
Care Bears Caring Contest by Nancy Parent (Ages 3-6)
Care Bears The Day Nobody Shared by Nancy Parent (Ages3-6) Fox Makes Friends by Adam Relf (Ages 3-5)

Gigi and Lulu’s Gigantic Fight by Pamela Edwards (Ages 3-7) Heartprints by P.K. Hallinan (Ages 3-6)

How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague (Ages 3-5)

How to be a Friend by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown (Ages 4-8) Hunter’s Best Friend at School by Laura Malone Elliot (Ages 4-7)
I’m a Good Friend! by David Parker (Ages 3-5)
I Can Share by Karen Katz (Ages infant-5)
I Can Cooperate! by David Parker (Ages 3-5)
I am Generous! by David Parker (Ages 2-5)
I’m Sorry by Sam McBratney (Ages 4-7)
It’s Hard to Share My Teacher by Joan Singleton Prestine (Ages5-6)
Jamberry by Bruce Degan (Ages 2-5)
Join In and Play by Cheri Meiners (Ages 3-6)
The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Don & Audry Wood (Ages 2-5)

Making Friends by Fred Rogers (Ages 3-5)
Making Friends by Janine Amos (Ages 4-8)
Matthew and Tilly by Rebecca C. Jones (Ages 4-8)
Mine! Mine! Mine! By Shelly Becker (Ages 3-5)
Mine! A Backpack Baby Story by Miriam Cohen (Ages infant-2)
My Friend Bear by Jez Alborough (Ages 3-8)
My Friend and I by Lisa John-Clough (Ages 4-8)
One Lonely Sea Horse by Saxton Freymann & Joost Elffers (Ages 4-8)
Perro Grande…Perro Pequeno/Big Dog…Little Dog by P.D. Eastman (Ages 4-8)                                                            The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister (Ages 3-8)
Share and Take Turns by Cheri Meiners (Ages 5-8)
Sharing How Kindness Grows by Fran Shaw (Ages 3-5)
The Selfish Crocodile by Faustin Charles and Michael Terry (Ages 4-7)
Simon and Molly plus Hester by Lisa Jahn-Clough (Ages 5-8)
Sometimes I Share by Carol Nicklaus (Ages 4-6)
Strawberry Shortcake and the Friendship Party by Monique Z. Sephens (Ages 2-5)                                                 Sunshine & Storm by Elisabeth Jones (Ages 3-5)
Talk an d Work it Out by Cheri Meiners (Ages 3-6)
That’s What a Friend Is by P.K. Hallinan (Ages3-8)
We Are Best Friends by Aliki (Ages 4-7)

Accepting Different Kinds of Friends

And Here’s to You by David Elliott (Ages 4-8)

Big Al by Andrew Clements (Ages 4-8)
The Brand New Kid by Katie Couric (Ages 3-8)
Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes (Ages 5-7)
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes (Ages 4-8)
Franklin’s New Friend by Paulette Bourgeois (Ages 5-8)
Horace and Morris But Mostly Dolores by James Howe (Ages 4-8)                                                                                      I Accept You as You Are! by David Parker (Ages 3-5)

It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr (Ages 3-8)                                                                                                       Margaret and Margarita by Lynn Reiser (Ages 5-8)

General Feelings

ABC Look at Me by Roberta Grobel Intrater (Ages infant-4)
“Baby Faces” books (most are by Roberta Grobel Intrater) (Ages infant-4)                                                                    Baby Faces by Margaret Miller (Ages infant-3)
Baby Senses Sight by Dr.S. Beaumont (ages infant -3)
Can You Tell How Someone Feels? (Early Social Behavior Book Series)by Nita Everly (Ages 3-6)

Double Dip Feelings by Barbara Cain (Ages 5-8)
The Feelings Book by Todd Parr (Ages 3-8)
Feeling Happy by Ellen Weiss (Ages infants -3)
Glad Monster, Sad Monster by Ed Emberley & Anne Miranda (Ages infant-5)                                                                 The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle (Ages 1-6)
The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen (Ages 3-5)
The Three Grumpies by Tamra Wight (Ages 4-8)
Happy and Sad, Grouchy and Glad by Constance Allen (Ages 4-7)
How Are You Peeling: Foods with Moods/Vegetal como eres: Alimentos con sentimientos by Saxton Freymann (Ages 5-8)

How Do I Feel? by Norma Simon (Ages 2-7)
How Do I Feel? Como me siento? by Houghton Mifflin (Ages infant-4)
How I Feel Proud by Marcia Leonard (Ages 2-6)
How I Feel Silly by Marcia Leonard (Ages 2-6)
How Kind by Mary Murphy (ages 2-5)
I Am Happy by Steve Light (Ages 3-6)
If You’re Happy and You Know it! by Jane Cabrera (Ages 3-6)
Little Teddy Bear’s Happy Face Sad Face by Lynn Offerman (a first book about feelings) Lizzy’s Ups and Downs by Jessica Harper (Ages 3-9)

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss (Ages 3-8)
On Monday When It Rained by Cherryl Kachenmeister (Ages 3-8)
Proud of Our Feelings by Lindsay Leghorn (Ages 4-8)
See How I Feel by Julie Aigner-Clark (Ages infant-4)
Sometimes I Feel Like a Storm Cloud by Lezlie Evans (Ages 4-8)
Smudge’s Grumpy Day by Miriam Moss (Ages 3-8)
The Way I Feel by Janan Cain (Ages 4-8)
Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee (Ages 3-8)                                                               The Way I Feel by Janan Cain (Ages 3-6)

What Makes Me Happy? by Catherine & Laurence Anholt (Ages 3-6)
What I Look Like When I am Confused/Como me veo cuando estoy confundido (Let’s Look at Feeling Series) by Joanne Randolph (Ages 5-8)                                                                                                                                                           When I Feel Frustrated by Marcia Leonard (Ages 2-6)

When I Feel Jealous by Marcia Leonard (Ages 2-6)feelings) Lizzy’s Ups and Downs by Jessica Harper (Ages 3-9)

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss (Ages 3-8)
On Monday When It Rained by Cherryl Kachenmeister (Ages 3-8)
Proud of Our Feelings by Lindsay Leghorn (Ages 4-8)
See How I Feel by Julie Aigner-Clark (Ages infant-4)
Sometimes I Feel Like a Storm Cloud by Lezlie Evans (Ages 4-8)
Smudge’s Grumpy Day by Miriam Moss (Ages 3-8)
The Way I Feel by Janan Cain (Ages 4-8)
Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee (Ages 3-8)                                                               The Way I Feel by Janan Cain (Ages 3-6)
What Makes Me Happy? by Catherine & Laurence Anholt (Ages 3-6)
What I Look Like When I am Confused/Como me veo cuando estoy confundido (Let’s Look at Feeling Series) by Joanne Randolph (Ages 5-8)                                                                                                                                                         When I Feel Frustrated by Marcia Leonard (Ages 2-6)

When I Feel Jealous by Marcia Leonard (Ages 2-6)

Happy Feelings

Amadeus is Happy by Eli Cantillon (Ages 2-5)
Feeling Happy by Ellen Weiss (ages 2-5)
If You’re Happy and You Know it! by David Carter (Ages 2-6)
If You’re Happy and You Know It by Scholastic/Taggies book (Ages infant-2)

The Feel Good Book by Todd Parr (Ages 3-6)
Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora (Ages 2-5)
When I Feel Happy by Marcia Leonard (Ages 2-6)
“What Went Right Today?” by Joan Buzick and Lindy Judd (Ages 3 – 8)

Sad Feelings

Let’s Talk About Feeling Sad by Joy Wilt Berry (Ages 3-5)
Franklin’s Bad Day by Paulette Bourgeois & Brenda Clark (Ages 5-8)                                                                                How I Feel Sad by Marcia Leonard (Ages 2-6)
Hurty Feelings by Helen Lester (Ages 5-8)
Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems (Ages 3-6)
Sometimes I Feel Awful by Joan Singleton Prestine (Ages 5-8)
The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle (Ages 4-7)
When I’m Feeling Sad by Trace Moroney (Ages 2-5)
When I Feel Sad by Cornelia Maude Spelman (Ages 5-7)

Angry or Mad Feelings

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (Ages 4-8)

Andrew’s Angry Words by Dorothea Lackner (Ages 4-8)
Bootsie Barker Bites by Barbara Bottner (Ages 4-8)
The Chocolate Covered Cookie Tantrum by Deborah Blementhal (Ages 5-8) How I Feel Frustrated by Marcia Leonard (Ages 3-8)
How I Feel Angry by Marcia Leonard (Ages 2-6)
Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney (Ages 2-5)
Sometimes I’m Bombaloo by Rachel Vail (Ages 3-8)
That Makes Me Mad! by Steven Kroll (Ages 4-8)
The Rain Came Down by David Shannon (Ages 4-8)
When I’m Angry by Jane Aaron (Ages 3-7)
When I’m Feeling Angry by Trace Moroney (Ages 2-5)
When I Feel Angry by Cornelia Maude Spelman (Ages 5-7)
When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry by Molly Garrett (Ages 3-7)                                                                   Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes. (Ages 4-8)

Scared of Worried Feelings

Creepy Things are Scaring Me by Jerome and Jarrett Pumphrey (Ages 4-8)                                                                Franklin in The Dark by Paulette Bourgeois & Brenda Clark (Ages 5-8)
How I Feel Scared by Marcia Leonard (Ages 2-6)
I Am Not Going to School Today by Robie H. Harris (Ages 4-8)

No Such Thing by Jackie French Koller (Ages 5-8)
Sam’s First Day (In multiple languages) by David Mills & Lizzie Finlay (Ages 3-7)                                                          Sheila Rae, the Brave, by Kevin Henkes (Ages 5-8)
Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes (Ages 5-8)
When I’m Feeling Scared by Trace Moroney (Ages 2-5)
When I Feel Scared by Cornelia Maude Spelman (Ages 5-7)

Caring About Others and Empathy

Bear Feels Sick by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman (Ages 3-5)                                                                                    Can You Tell How Someone Feels by Nita Everly (ages 3-6)

Understand and Care by Cheri Meiners (Ages 3-6)
When I Care about Others by Cornelia Maude Spelman (Ages 5-7)

Problem Solving

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems (Ages 2-7)                                                                                         Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! by Mo Willems (Ages 2-7) I Did It, I’m Sorry by Caralyn Buehner (Ages 5-8)
It Wasn’t My Fault by Helen Lester (Ages 4-7)

Talk and Work it Out by Cheri Meiners (Ages 4-8)

Self Confidence

ABC I like Me by Nancy Carlson (Ages 4-6) Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman (Ages 4-8)                                                 Arthur’s Nose, by Marc Brown (Ages 3-8)
The Blue Ribbon Day by Katie Couric (Ages 4-8) Can You Keep Trying by Nita Everly (Ages 3-6)

I Can Do It Myself (A Sesame Street Series) by Emily Perl Kingsley (Ages 2-4)                                                                     I’m in Charge of Me!, by David Parker (Ages 3-5)
I am Responsible!, by David Parker (Ages 3-5)
The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper (Ages 3-7)

Susan Laughs by Jeanne Willis (Ages 4-7)
Too Loud Lilly by Sophia Laguna (Ages 4-7)
Try and Stick With It by Cheri Meiners (Ages 4-8)
26 Big Things Little Hands Can Do by Coleen Paratore (Ages 1-6)                                                                                        The Very Clumsy Click Beetle by Eric Carle (Ages 3-7)
Whistle for Willie/Sebale a Willie by Erza Jack Keats (Ages 4-7))                                                                                        You Can Do It, Sam by Amy Hest (Ages 2-6)

Good Behavior Expectations

Can You Listen with Your Eyes? by Nita Everly (Ages 3-6)
Can You Use a Good Voice? by Nita Everly (Ages 3-6)
David Goes to School by David Shannon (Ages 3-8)
David Gets in Trouble by David Shannon (Ages 3-8)
Excuse Me!: A Little Book of Manners by Karen Katz (Ages infant-5)
Feet Are Not for Kicking (available in board book) by Elizabeth Verdick (Ages 2-4)                                                         Hands are Not for Hitting (available in board book) by Martine Agassi (Ages 2-8)                                                          Hands Can by Cheryl Willis Hudson (ages 1-5)

I Tell the Truth! by David Parker (Ages 3-5)
I Show Respect! by David Parker (Ages 3-5)
Know and Follow Rules by Cheri Meiners (Ages 3-6)
Listen and Learn by Cheri Meiners (Ages 3-6)
No Biting by Karen Katz (Ages infant-5)
No David by David Shannon (Ages 3-8)
No Hitting by Karen Katz (Ages infant-5)
Please Play Safe! Penguin’s Guide to Playground Safety by Margery Cuyler (Ages 2-5)                                                      26 Big Things Small Hands Can Do by Coleen Paratore (Ages 3-5)
Quiet and Loud by Leslie Patricelli (Ages 1-3)
Words Are Not for Hurting by Elizabeth Verdick (Ages 3-6)

Family Relationships

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman and Carlos Rivera (Ages infant-5)                                                                     Baby Dance by Ann Taylor (Ages infant-4)
Because I Love You So Much by Guido van Genechten (Ages 2-5)                                                                                     Counting Kisses by Karen Katz (Ages infant-5)

Full, Full, Full of Love by Trish Cooke (Ages 4-6)
Don’t Forget I Love You by Mariam Moss (Ages 2-7)
Guess How Much I Love You By Sam McBratney (Ages infant-5)
Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen (Ages 5-8)
How Do I Love You? by P.K. Hallinan (Ages infant-5)
I Love it When You Smile by Sam McBratney (Ages 3-5)
I Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas (Ages 3-5)
I Love You: A Rebus Poem, by Jean Marzollo (Ages 1-6)
I Love You the Purplest, by Barbara M. Joose (Ages 4-8)
I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak (Ages 1-5)
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn (Ages 3-8)
Koala Lou By Mem Fox (Ages 4-7)
Mama, Do You Love Me?/Me quieres, mama? By Barbara Joosse (Ages 3-6)                                                                More, More, More, Said the Baby: Three Love Stories By Vera B. Williams Morrow (Ages infant-3)

No Matter What by Debi Gliori (Ages 2-5)
Owl Babies by Martin Waddell (Ages 3-7)
Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee (Ages infant-5)
Te Amo Bebe, Little One by Lisa Wheeler (Ages infant-3)                                                                                               You’re All My Favorites by Sam Mc Bratney (Ages 5-7)


A Weekend with Wendell, by Kevin Henkes (Ages 4-8)
The Berenstain Bears and the Bully by San and Jan Berenstain (Ages 4-7)                                                                        Big Bad Bruce by Bill Peet (Ages 4-8)
Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes (Ages 5-7)
Coyote Raid in Cactus Canyon J. Arnosky (Ages 4-8)
Gobbles! By Ezra Jack Kets (Ages 4-8)
Hats by Kevin Luthardt (Ages 3-6)
Hooway for Wodney Wat! by Helen Lester (Ages 5-8)
Hugo and the Bully Frogs by Francesca Simon (Ages 3-7)

Grief and Death

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscaglia (Ages 5-adult) Goodbye Mousie by Robert Harris (Ages 3-8)
I Miss You by Pat Thomas (Ages 4-8)
The Next Place by Warren Hanson (Ages 5-adult)

Sad Isn’t Bad: Grief Guidebook for Kids Dealing with Loss Series by Michaelene Mundy (Ages 5-8)

Related Links on the Blog:
  • Click Here for a Post with More “Get to Know You Games” ~ free printable board game & All About Me Worksheets!
  • Click Here for Feelings Tic-Tac-Toe Game (free printable)
  • Click Here for Details on Playing Pictionary for Family Game Night
  • Click Here for my post containing many FREE printable Feeling Charts.
  • Click Here for my post containing many FREE Emotion Cards.
  • Click Here for 3 free worksheets/activities teach kids emotional mental health skills (chutes & ladders to teach rewards/consequences; journal prompts for boys – summer theme & Lego Activity practice following directions)
  • Click Here for Operation Game used to teach kids Social Emotional Skills (free printable cards)
  • Click Here for Uno Dare Card game with an extra twist to make it into a Family Bonding Game!
  • Click Here for Anger Alternatives Game “Don’t Get Mad” (free printable – all you need is a penny & players!)


Mother, Pediatric Nurse and a Trail Blazer for Positive Change.

One thought on “Helping Kids Manage Emotions – PIE Approach, Activities, Children’s Book List and Positive Reinforcement Statements (free printables)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s