A mood chart is one of my favorite ways to work with kids on the identification and regulation of emotions.
It’s a tool that all caretakers should use in one form or another that helps kids have strong emotional foundations.
What is a Mood Chart?A mood chart (also known as an emotion chart) is a powerful tool that helps keep track of emotions at regular intervals.
Some examples of a mood chart can be as simple as a journal, a printable emotions chart that hangs on the fridge or in their bedroom, or an online app.
A mood chart helps families or teachers identify, track and be mindful of any big emotions. Whether it is a temper tantrum, excitement or feeling overwhelmed, this tool can help children express their big feelings.
Benefits of Using a Mood Chart with KidsSome of the top reasons to add an emotions chart to your daily routine include:
- helping build the skills to control their own emotional regulation (when they are aware of how they feel, it is easier to control any large emotions)
- helping identify triggering events (noticing that taking the bus to school is a traumatic experience every day will help you work on making it less threatening or consider other modes of transportation)
- learning basic emotion words
- learning to identify basic emotions and how they feel in their body
- developing healthy coping skills (when your kids realize that feeling tired leads to tantrums, then they can recognize when they are tired so they avoid anything that may start a tantrum)
- helping your child feel that they can express various emotions in different ways (when your child can express their joy, they can learn how to show it in different ways that are appropriate for the situation – for example, if they are joyful during a piano recital, screaming with glee at the top of their lungs is not appropriate)
- increasing emotional intelligence in younger children (when kids know how they feel, they will be better able to interpret other children’s feelings)
- developing social skills (knowing how to interpret emotions in themselves as well as others will help them identify which social experiences are the most positive ones for them)
- creating a positive self-image (the ability to look inward and discover how you are doing will help develop the confidence to walk into different situations.)
Mood tracking can help them to identify and positively express feelings. Even with younger kids, the results are surprisingly helpful.
The mood charts mentioned below are a great way to help children with their own emotions.
Of course, you will be able to identify other benefits with your own children once you begin incorporating a mood chart into your day-to-day activities.
Ready to use your mood chart? Keep reading to learn all about it…
DOWNLOAD OUR MOOD CHARTS FOR KIDS AT THE END OF THE POSTHow to Use your Mood Tracker with KidsUsing your mood chart is one of the easiest activities to help you check in with your kids daily.
Depending on the type of feelings chart you and your family choose to try out, there are plenty of opportunities to use one during the day.
For young children, using a simple chart with different colors to identify different emotions that they can point to is an easy way to start.
- If their vocabulary isn’t sophisticated enough, trying something simpler like feelings playdough mats may be easier.
- Reading books is a great introduction to the vocabulary that a proper mood chart would require.
- Display a feelings chart for a quick feelings lesson before breakfast.
- An emotion wheel is a great tool to help young kids point out which emotions they are feeling.
- hanging an emotions vocabulary poster in their room or bathroom
- playing with these emotions flashcards that are perfect for helping kids learn how to describe common emotions
- going around the dinner table and having everyone share what emotions they encountered that day and why – keep it written in a family diary that can be used every night.
- Consistency is key! Make it a habit every single day to mention it at least once. The more you can work emotions into your discussions, the easier it will be in the long run.
- Be honest and share your own feelings. It is unfair to expect this of our own children if we cannot be honest with them.
- Create a safe space for the expression of feelings in your everyday routine.
Allowing a kid to admit that they are frustrated, excited, or overwhelmed will help develop emotional maturity in the end.
- If your child struggles with anger, focusing on just that emotion may be the best place to start. Here is the link to a printable feelings chart: an Anger Thermometer can be the perfect goal sheet for managing anger.
Real-Life Examples Using a Mood TrackerThis mood tracker has become one of my favorite emotional activities. I have been using the mood trackers you will find in your download with our son at home.
He is the one who reminds me he wants to complete them!
The first chart is a tracker version with six emotions and children’s illustrations displaying different faces or feelings.
There is a second emotions tracker inspired by the four Zones of Regulation. Many schools follow this social-emotional learning curriculum, so I thought it would be helpful to add it. Our son works with the Zones at school, but he prefers the feelings tracker.
I’ll share with you a couple of situations we encountered because they illustrate why I’ve fallen in love with this tool.
A fun way to start conversations about their dayWhen I ask my son how the day has gone for him, his usual answer would be, “I don’t want to talk about it!”.
And that’s the end of my inquiry. He is just not interested in sharing it.
But, since we started using the mood tracker, things have changed dramatically.
Now, he wants to share what his day has been like, whether he had to deal with difficult emotions and his different moods. He shares his different feelings because he wants me to understand his choice of colors for the mood tracker.
“Today the morning has been good, and I felt happy. But then I got really mad because I couldn’t use my tablet because it ran out of battery. The evening has been great because we did a video call with May, and then I had my pasta for dinner.”
A Tool to Help Kids Reflect on Their EmotionsOur mood trackers have also been great tools for reflecting on his intense emotions.
If you look at the picture below, Tuesday evening looks extremely messy.
Using Our Mood Tracker at HomeThat’s because the evening was full of mixed feelings, and we were able to visualize my child’s moods with the mood chart.
The evening started mega happy (another video call to our favorite person). But then, while he was on the call, he started getting annoyed. He couldn’t find the right words to express himself. The more anxious he got, the more difficulty expressing himself. Then, at some point in time, the anxious feelings became angry feelings.
But then, something magic happened.
Our son was able to express the need to finish the call because he was not feeling okay anymore. We did a few breathing exercises, and he started displaying fewer anxiety symptoms.
We congratulated him for his amazing self-regulation:
“You’ve done an amazing job using your words to express what you were feeling and what you needed. And we are so proud of you because you managed your big emotions and found a way to calm down.”
Although I helped with the breathing activities, he had already managed to take some control over his emotions.
We went back to our mood track to reflect on the different kinds of emotions that we had gone through.
We added a bit of yellow (happy), mixed blue and red for anxious and angry, and added green (calm) at the end.
I just can’t even start to tell you how super proud we were. Emotional regulation is very difficult for our neurodivergent boy so this was a huge win.
Taking StockI have created two different options for our mood charts:
- Morning / Midday / Evening
The day is long. If your child focuses only on the negatives, it will bias the image that they see reflected on their chart.
So, I created three “stops” to reflect on how our emotions have played throughout the day.
- Day of the Week
On the following day, we would look at the previous day and assess our overall feelings about the day.
That allowed us to discuss that reflect on how specific events may not have tainted how the day was. This would have been difficult without the detailed tracker of the previous day (morning/ midday/evening.)