This is one of my favourite mental health resources. I have used emotion wheels for about three years because they help me better understand my emotions. The one thing I wish, is that I had discovered this resource when I was younger so it was only natural that I create a few emotion wheels for BrainFrame.
Fun psychology fact: our bodies respond very similar for every different emotion (whether we are angry or happy or any other emotion, our body will feel the same). It is really cool, but also helps explain why it can sometimes be so difficult to know what we are feeling. And having a tool to help us understand our emotions is very important.
There are three options for the emotion wheels, that suit different age levels. I think it is important to introduce these emotion wheels to children when they are young so that they can develop a great understanding of their feelings and have amazing coping skills as they grow up. Below I've outlined how the emotion wheels work and some tips for helping children (or yourself) use this amazing resource!
The Emotion Wheels
There are three emotion wheel options:
- The basic emotion wheel is picture based so that young kids can use it is a more visual tool to try and better understand there emotions. This is a beginner emotion wheel to get children used to the idea of trying to understand there feelings. All three emotion wheels contain the six primary emotions (happy, sad, anger, disgust, surprise, and fear).
- Recommended Age: Preschool - Grade 4
- Once kids become familiar with the idea of the emotion wheel they may want to progress to the second option. There are two layers: the inner layer has the six primary emotions and the second layer breaks down those basic feelings into more specific emotions.
- Recommended Age: Grade 5 - Grade 9
- The final emotion wheel has three layers of emotions. The first two layers are the same and the third layer further breaks down the emotions into more specific feelings.
- Recommended Age: Grade 10+
Tips for Using the Emotion Wheels
- The typical way of using this emotion wheel is to go from the inner circle outwards. First start by figuring out your basic emotion and then work your way out until you understand your more specific emotion.
- Sometimes it can also be useful to use the emotion wheel in reverse. Especially in a very confusing situation (for example, you don't know whether you are mad or sad) you can try to look at the specific emotions around the outer layers and work your way in to uncover your basic emotions.
- Start the process early! Getting kids used to the process of understanding their emotions early will help them feel comfortable using the emotion wheels and excited to take care of their mental health.
- Create a routine! Incorporate the emotion wheel into daily or weekly routines so that your child feels confident using the emotion wheel. The goal is to make these emotion wheels a reliable resource for the kids so that they will turn to the emotion wheel when they are confused about their feelings.
- Set the example! Kids love to see and do what adults do, so using an emotion wheel of your own will help encourage your children and make them more excited to use the emotion wheel themselves.
- As kids grow up and become comfortable with their current emotion wheel, introduce them to the more specific emotion wheels. It may be extra helpful to assist them with the new words when introducing them to a new emotion wheel.
- Try letting your children color in their own emotion wheel to represent the emotions with colors that they connect with.
- Encourage your children to use other tools along with the emotion wheel.
- Using a journal alongside the emotion wheel can be a really great way to unpack the feeling and understand why you are feeling a certain way. It's also important to do this journalling regardless of the type of emotion. I often forget to do my journalling when I am feeling happy and excited, but it's good to appreciate the context behind feeling happy and express gratitude towards yourself for all of your moods!
- Try using this mood check-in chart to help children keep track of their emotions over time!
- This emotion-bots magnet craft can also be an extra fun way to do daily emotion check-ins. It is especially fun for younger kids!