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Feelings Wheel | Free Printable

As a child care worker, I’ve learned that understanding a child’s emotions can be quite challenging. For neurodivergent kids, their emotional landscape can be even more complex and difficult to interpret. One tool that I’ve found particularly useful in this regard is the feelings wheel. This visual aid helps kids articulate their emotions more clearly and meaningfully. In this blog post, I’ll discuss how using a feelings wheel can significantly improve communication with your children, aiding them in better expressing their emotions and supporting their emotional development. Additionally, I’m providing a free printable PDF of the feelings wheel for you to use at home or school.

Understanding the Feelings Wheel

The feelings wheel, in essence, is a colorful chart divided into sections representing different emotions. It’s designed to help children – especially those with special needs – identify and articulate their feelings better.

For instance, if your child is feeling upset but can’t quite pinpoint why — they can refer to the feelings wheel. Starting from the center of the wheel, where basic emotions like happy, sad, or angry are listed, they can navigate outward to more specific emotions. This way, they may realize that what they’re feeling isn’t just sadness but disappointment or loneliness. By breaking down these complex emotions into their simpler counterparts, children can gain a better understanding of their emotional state. This tool can be particularly helpful in emotional development, as it encourages kids to articulate their feelings more precisely. In turn, this makes it easier for parents or guardians to offer appropriate support and guidance, helping children to manage their emotions more effectively. The feelings wheel, therefore, becomes an invaluable aid in fostering emotional intelligence from a young age.

feelings wheel
Read more: Printable Feelings Chart for Kids

The Benefits of Using a Feelings Wheel

But why should you introduce this tool to your kids? For starters, it encourages emotional literacy — an essential skill for neurodivergent kids who struggle to express their feelings.

  • Promotes Emotional Literacy: By providing a visual representation of various emotions, the feelings wheel helps children understand complex emotional concepts.
  • Aids Communication: It acts as a common language between you and your child – making conversations about emotions easier and more effective.
  • Fosters Emotional Intelligence: Regular use of this tool fosters self-awareness and empathy in children – key components of emotional intelligence.
Goally tablet showing Mood Tuner, the emotional regulation app for kids to help them manage big emotions.

Incorporating The Feelings Wheel Into Your Routine

I’ve seen firsthand how beneficial such tools can be in my practice. Here are some practical ways you could incorporate them into your routine at home or school:

  1. Daily Check-ins: You could start by having daily check-ins where you both share one emotion from the wheel that you felt during the day. This helps them become more aware of their emotions and shows them that it’s normal and healthy to talk about feelings.
  2. Storytelling: While reading stories or watching movies, pause at certain scenes and ask your child how they think a character is feeling using the wheel as a reference. This can enhance their understanding of others’ emotions – fostering empathy.
  3. Solving Conflicts: In situations where conflicts arise, encourage your child to use the wheel to express what they’re feeling rather than resorting to harmful behaviors. It’s an effective way for them to learn constructive ways of dealing with negative emotions.

The Feelings Wheel in Action

To illustrate how this works, let me share a story from my practice. I was working with a 7-year-old boy diagnosed with ADHD who often had outbursts at school when things didn’t go his way. We introduced the feelings wheel into our sessions, and he started identifying that behind his anger were feelings of disappointment or embarrassment.

This newfound awareness helped him communicate better with his teachers instead of acting out — significantly improving his behavior at school. His parents incorporated it into their daily routine, further reinforcing its benefits. Remember, though – while tools like these are beneficial, they aren’t substitutes for professional help if needed.

Goally | Kid’s Tablet for Building Emotional Regulation Skills

Is your child struggling with understanding and managing their emotions? Goally teaches emotional regulation skills in a fun and interactive way!

The Mood Tuner app encourages kids to look inwards and identify their feelings, helping them understand what’s going on inside. Once they’ve recognized their emotions, they can choose from a variety of exercises designed to help them self-regulate and find their balance.

In essence, the emotion wheel printable serves as a compass for your child’s emotions — guiding them towards understanding and articulating their feelings better. By incorporating this tool into your daily routine, you’re fostering emotional literacy in your kids and paving the way for open and effective communication about emotions. So why not give it a spin? With our free printable PDF of the feelings wheel, you can start this journey today — helping your child navigate their emotional world more confidently and clearly.


FAQs about Feelings Wheel

What is a feelings wheel?
A feelings wheel is a visual tool that helps children, especially those with special needs, identify and articulate their emotions more accurately by providing a spectrum of emotions to choose from.

How can I use the feelings wheel with my child?
You can incorporate the feelings wheel into daily check-ins, storytelling sessions or conflict resolution situations to help your child express their emotions constructively.

Can the feelings wheel be used for neurodivergent kids?
Absolutely! The feelings wheel is particularly beneficial for neurodivergent kids who may struggle with expressing their emotions effectively.

 Does using the feeling's wheel replace professional help if needed?
No, while it's an effective tool for fostering emotional literacy at home or school, it should not replace professional help if your child has significant struggles managing their emotions.

This post was originally published on 02/14/2024. It was updated on 07/03/2024.

Article by
Hennah, one of Goally's blog writers.

Hennah is an experienced writer and researcher, helping children with autism, ADHD, and other neurodivergent conditions. As a blog contributor for Goally, she combines her deep understanding of neurodiversity with practical advice, offering valuable insights to parents and educators.