Emotional Intelligence Activities for Young Children

digital art of kids doing activities
  • Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand, manage, and express one’s emotions effectively while empathizing with others. Developing EI in young children is crucial as it lays the foundation for their emotional well-being, social interactions, and academic success. This article explores various activities designed to boost emotional intelligence in children, helping them grow into emotionally balanced and empathetic individuals.

Understanding Emotional Intelligence in Children

Emotional intelligence comprises several key components:

  • Self-Awareness: Recognizing and understanding one’s own emotions.
  • Self-Regulation: Managing emotions in a healthy way.
  • Motivation: Using emotions to pursue goals.
  • Empathy: Understanding and sharing the feelings of others.
  • Social Skills: Interacting positively with others.

High EI in children can lead to better relationships, improved academic performance, and greater overall happiness.

Activities to Develop Self-Awareness

Emotion Faces Chart

Materials Needed: Paper, markers, and stickers.


  • Draw different facial expressions (happy, sad, angry, surprised, etc.) on a chart.
  • Discuss each emotion with the child and ask them to label the faces.
  • Encourage the child to identify their own emotions using the chart.

How It Helps: This activity helps children recognize and name their emotions, fostering self-awareness.

My Emotion Journal

Materials Needed: Notebook, crayons, and stickers.


  • Provide the child with a notebook to use as an emotion journal.
  • Each day, ask them to draw or write about their feelings and experiences.
  • Discuss their entries with them to help them reflect on their emotions.

How It Helps: Keeping an emotion journal encourages children to reflect on their daily emotions, enhancing self-awareness.

Activities to Enhance Self-Regulation

Breathing Exercises

Materials Needed: Quiet space.


  • Teach the child simple breathing exercises, such as deep breathing or belly breathing.
  • Practice these exercises together during calm moments.
  • Encourage the child to use these techniques when they feel overwhelmed.

How It Helps: Controlled breathing helps children manage strong emotions and reduces stress.

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Calm Down Corner

Materials Needed: Cushions, soft toys, books.


  • Create a calm down corner in a quiet area with cushions, soft toys, and calming books.
  • Encourage the child to use this space when they need to relax and regain control.
  • Discuss their feelings once they have calmed down.

How It Helps: A designated calm down space helps children self-regulate and practice emotional control.

Activities to Foster Motivation

Goal Setting with Sticker Charts

Materials Needed: Chart paper, stickers.


  • Set small, achievable goals for the child, such as tidying their room or finishing homework.
  • Use a sticker chart to track their progress.
  • Celebrate their achievements with praise and rewards.

How It Helps: Setting and achieving goals encourages persistence and motivation in children.

Positive Affirmations

Materials Needed: Index cards, markers.


  • Write positive affirmations (e.g., “I am brave,” “I am kind”) on index cards.
  • Read these affirmations together each day.
  • Encourage the child to come up with their own affirmations.

How It Helps: Positive affirmations build a positive self-image and resilience.

Activities to Cultivate Empathy

Role-Playing Games

Materials Needed: Costumes, props.


  • Create scenarios where the child can role-play different emotions and situations.
  • Discuss how the characters might feel and why.
  • Encourage the child to express empathy towards the characters.

How It Helps: Role-playing helps children understand and relate to others’ feelings.

Storytelling with Moral Lessons

Materials Needed: Storybooks with moral lessons.


  • Read stories that highlight empathy and kindness.
  • Discuss the characters’ actions and feelings.
  • Encourage the child to think about how they would act in similar situations.

How It Helps: Stories with moral lessons teach empathy through relatable characters and scenarios.

Activities to Improve Social Skills

Group Cooperative Games

Materials Needed: Board games, puzzles.


  • Organize group games that require cooperation, such as board games or team puzzles.
  • Encourage the children to work together and communicate effectively.
  • Discuss the importance of teamwork and fair play.

How It Helps: Cooperative games develop social skills and teamwork.

Turn-Taking Activities

Materials Needed: Toys, games.


  • Set up activities that require taking turns, such as sharing toys or playing board games.
  • Teach the child the rules of turn-taking and fairness.
  • Praise the child for waiting patiently and sharing.

How It Helps: Turn-taking activities teach patience and sharing, essential for social interactions.

Integrating EI Activities into Daily Routines

Tips for Parents and Teachers

  • Be a role model by demonstrating emotional intelligence in your own behavior.
  • Create a consistent schedule for EI activities, making them a regular part of the child’s routine.
  • Encourage open communication about emotions at home and in school, fostering a supportive environment.

Developing emotional intelligence in young children is vital for their overall development and future success. By incorporating activities that focus on self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills, parents and educators can help children grow into emotionally balanced and empathetic individuals. Consistent practice and a supportive environment will ensure these skills become a natural part of their lives.

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1. What are some effective emotional intelligence activities for young children?

Effective emotional intelligence activities for young children include role-playing games where children act out different emotions and scenarios. Activities like “Emotion Charades,” where children mimic emotions for others to guess, and “Feelings Circle,” where children share their feelings in a supportive group, help develop emotional awareness. Storytelling and reading books about emotions can also enhance empathy and emotional vocabulary. Incorporating these emotional intelligence activities for young children into daily routines can significantly boost their emotional skills.

2. How can parents teach emotional intelligence to young children at home?

Parents can teach emotional intelligence to young children at home through various activities. Creating a “Feelings Chart” to help children identify and express their emotions is a great start. Playing games like “Emotion Matching” with cards displaying different facial expressions can be both fun and educational. Encouraging children to talk about their day and discuss any emotional challenges they faced can foster emotional awareness. Consistently engaging in these emotional intelligence activities for young children will help them build a strong foundation in managing their emotions.

3. Why is it important to focus on emotional intelligence activities for young children?

Focusing on emotional intelligence activities for young children is crucial because it helps them understand and manage their emotions, leading to better social interactions and relationships. Emotional intelligence is linked to success in school and later life, as it enhances skills like empathy, self-regulation, and communication. Engaging in emotional intelligence activities for young children from an early age lays the groundwork for mental health, resilience, and overall well-being, preparing them for future challenges.

4. What are some classroom activities that promote emotional intelligence in young children?

Classroom activities that promote emotional intelligence in young children include group discussions about emotions, where children can share their feelings and listen to others. “Emotion Puppets” can be used to act out different scenarios and discuss the characters’ emotions. Collaborative projects like “Emotion Collages,” where children create visual representations of various feelings, can also be effective. Incorporating these emotional intelligence activities for young children in the classroom setting can create a supportive and emotionally aware environment.

5. How can teachers integrate emotional intelligence activities into the curriculum for young children?

Teachers can integrate emotional intelligence activities into the curriculum for young children by incorporating daily “Emotion Check-Ins,” where students express how they feel at the start of the day. Reading and discussing books focused on emotions can be part of the literacy curriculum. Activities like “Emotion Journals” encourage children to write or draw their feelings regularly. Including role-playing and cooperative games in the classroom can also enhance emotional learning. By embedding these emotional intelligence activities for young children into the curriculum, teachers can foster a holistic development approach.


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