How to Use Books to Increase Emotional Intelligence

Being a kid can feel hard! Our kids have BIG feelings but don’t understand them. These big feelings often come out in challenging behaviors because they haven’t developed emotional intelligence.

If your child came through adoption or foster care, he may have missed out on developing an emotions vocabulary.

Whether your children came by birth or adoption, it’s our job as parents to help our kids develop their emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. [1]

Sometimes exploring your child’s own emotions feels like navigating a field of landmines.

Maybe you feel like you can’t even manage your own emotions, and you feel like a failure. I was struggling Friday to manage my own emotions let alone the emotions of others!

Illustrated storybooks are an effective way to explore feelings in a non-threatening way. It’s easier and more concrete for children to explore the feelings of others as opposed to their own.

Illustrated storybooks are an effective way to explore feelings in a non-threatening way. It's easier and more concrete for children to explore the feelings of others as opposed to their own. #momhack Click To Tweet

As your child’s emotional vocabulary for others increases, she will start being able to use it to identify her own big feelings.

As you read with your child ask:

  • What do you think the character is feeling?
  • What would be a good decision the character could make? What would be a bad decision?
  • Have you ever felt the way the character is feeling?
  • Can you make your face look the way the character is feeling?
  • Not a question, but try just flipping through and naming the emotions illustrated throughout the book.

If you need to spark ideas for emotions words that are not “happy” or “mad,” check out this list.

Check out books from the authors below to get started.

Kevin Henkes

Kevin Henkes

Patricia Polacco

Patricia Polacco

Mo Willems

Mo Willems

This post contains affiliate links.

What are your favorite books to read with your kids about feelings?

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