How to Help Children Identify Emotions With Cupcakes

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Learning how to help children identify emotions isn't something most parents research a lot unless their children have a challenge with it. But, the earlier we can help our kids recognize what they're feeling, the sooner we can work with them on appropriate ways to express how they're feeling.

How to Help Children Identify Emotions

Making time to learn how to help children identify emotions—beginning with their own emotions—is the first step in helping them learn to recognize the emotions of others, such as their family members and friends. This can lead to extended teaching opportunities on how to improve their interpersonal relationships. And it can be as simple as getting in the kitchen and baking a batch of cupcakes with them.

How to Help Children Identify Emotions With Cupcakes

Simply follow these steps and voila! Your child will be identifying and expressing his or her own emotions in no time.

  1. Purchase cupcake baking and decorating supplies:
    • Cake mix
    • Frosting
    • Cake decorating gel
    • Candy for eyes, nose, ears, mouth
    • (Optional) Cupcake decorating kit (In the picture, below, we used one of Wilton's cupcake decorating kits for this activity, which came complete with the small candy eyes, mustache/nose topper, and tie-themed cupcake liners.)
  1. Together with your children, bake and frost cupcakes.
  2. If this is the first activity for teaching children to identify emotions, start by defining the word "emotions."
  3. Ask your children to write a list of emotions on a piece of paper.
  4. Together, make faces, describing each emotion.
    Tip! When you feel your children adequately understand what emotions are on a basic level and can describe a few of them, move on to the decorating portion of the activity by asking your children to share which emotion they want to create on their first cupcake.
  5. With cake decorating icing and candy, decorate each cupcake based on one emotion. For example, decorate a "happy" cupcake or a "surprised" cupcake. Make it both fun and meaningful, discussing each emotion as you decorate.
    Tip! Have your children share the emotion they created with you. Ask them to mirror the cupcake's emotions and to tell you what the cupcake would say about his or her emotion if it could talk. In this way, you'll further the learning experience.
  6. (Optional) After decorating each cupcake, act out the emotion and discuss ways to express the feelings associated with it. Consider taking turns, guessing each other's emotions.
  7. (Optional) A twist on this activity is to decorate the cupcakes or half of the cupcakes without letting your children see them ahead of time. Then, make a game out of guessing the emotion of each cupcake. When your child can name the emotion, act it out, and express appropriately how the cupcake is feeling, let your child eat the cupcake. Mini cupcakes may work best in this situation.

  How to Help Children Identify Emotions

What tips do you have for how to hep children identify emotions?

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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.


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