Playing with Emotions

Teaching Big Emotions in a Cute and Cuddly Way: My Experience with Kimochis 


For anyone raising or working with young children (especially toddlers and preschool age) I am sure you are in the throws of emotional upheavals that a lot of times are just straight up hard to explain.  Example: Having an emotional meltdown over not being able to play with a hair dryer, or that a cookie is missing 3 chocolate chips.  It’s HARD being a toddler.  The world moves so fast and with so much agility around you, and while you’re trying to keep up your brain is also trying to balance itself.  It’s growing connections and removing them at light speed!  You are designed to push boundaries at this age to learn, yet pushing so many at once is bound to push your parent’s very last button!  You’re learning feelings are a BIG deal, especially when they overtake that logical left side brain and you literally LOSE CONTROL!  How can parents (and even professionals) help give their child a leg up, engage in play, and also gain some of their sanity back?

Teaching and modeling emotional vocabulary and coping skills!

Why is emotional vocabulary important? Here are just a few:

  1. Helps promote self-regulation skills
  2. Helps children and ADULTS identify and move toward acceptance and expression of specific feelings
  3. Academically, supports reading comprehension, character analysis, and story predictions
  4. Helps support developing social competencies and forming relationships
  5. Helps reduce challenging behaviors

Young children (especially those learning language) benefit from multi-sensory learning, repetition, PLAY, exaggerated facial expression and tone of voice, imitation, modeling, and touch.  Kimochis (which means “feelings” in Japanese) look like toys, but are actually designed to be tools to help children express emotions. The company is committed to providing resources and support for Character Education Training.   Kimochis are something I have loved as a therapist, and now as a mom!  If you visit their website you will find Kimochis for pretty much everything, but I am a big fan of the Mixed Bag of Feelings.   I paired this with their Cloud Character ,who has two faces, one that I call “comfortable”, and one that I call “uncomfortable” when I use him.

How have I used them…

  1. With my preschoolers we talked about how some feelings make our bodies feel comfortable or good, while others make our bodies feel uncomfortable.  During games, at the start of sessions, or transitions, my students could pick a Kimochi that reflected how they were feeling and place in in the Cloud Character.  What I really LOVE is that the Kimochi’s have the written word AND a facial expression that matches on them!  (emotional check in)
  2. Grab Bag Feeling and Acting!  Students would pick a Kimochi blindly from the bag, and we would all act out how our faces and bodies would look when experiencing this emotion!
  3. Picking an emotion, acting it out, and role playing a coping strategy to “walk through” that feeling!  Whether this means calming down or gaining more energy, or expressing anger!
  4. TIP:  Always teach when a child is calm/regulated.  Asking them to use a Kimochi or teaching expression when their already upset is literally going to go in one ear and out the other!  That logical left brain is losing a battle already!

My one year old LOVES to pick up the Kimochi’s and try to imitate the faces!  OR better yet watch me demonstrate the emotion for her, paired with “I feel…”  It’s learning and it’s fun!  

Their website discusses MANY ways you can use these to teach and play!  I hope you have enjoyed some of mine!

*This post is strictly my opinion, and my positive experience with using Kimochis.  It is in no way sponsored by this product. 

Published by Sarah Ott

I am a Full Time Mom and Part Time Speech and Language Pathologist. Becoming a Mom has brought me to to numerous new life lessons, including balancing self-care with caring for my family, fulfilling my professional goals in new ways, and striving to raise good humans! This page is a space to share my own experiences, successes, and failures, hopefully create a positive space for others to join, and invite you to join me in pursuing happiness in whatever life journey you are on. Our children are our greatest teachers, and looking for us to teach them in return.

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