Motherhood

A Children’s Book We Can’t Stop Reading

The other night, something amazing happened…

Today I Feel... by Madalena Moniz

We had just discovered the children’s book Today I Feel… by Portuguese author Madalena Moniz, in which a little boy feels different emotions from A to Z — like adored, excited, nervous and strong.

Today I Feel... by Madalena Moniz

How beautiful are the illustrations?

Today I Feel... by Madalena Moniz

At bedtime, the boys and I cuddled up with the book. When we got to “jealous,” I explained what the word meant. Suddenly, four-year-old Anton, who is usually pretty taciturn, piped up about our recent family vacation. One evening, he had spotted a group of kids playing at the park and felt jealous. He spied on them until they came around a tree and said hi. Then they all played together and he was happy. This was fascinating to hear because I had been standing right there and hadn’t realized he’d felt any of those emotions! Kids often experience a whole world of their own, don’t you think?

Today I Feel... by Madalena Moniz

Plus, teaching little ones to identify their feelings helps them hone a life-long skill. Cup of Jo reader Lora works at a juvenile detention center as part of her training as a Ph.D. student in clinical psychology. “The girls I work with can often more easily articulate their emotional confusion or acknowledge contrasting emotions,” she says. “However, the boys will often describe something emotionally complex but then revert to saying ‘…and so I was angry.’ I often follow up with, ‘It sounds like you were frustrated [or lonely or feeling disrespected or…] and I can see why that might then make you angry.’ I think many of them feel like anger is a safe emotion for them to feel, so it’s easy to revert to that as their primary description. But as they hear new words to describe their feelings, they often pause to think or ask for more information. By expanding their language, we are helping them expand their ability to recognize different layers in their emotional world.”

Today I Feel... by Madalena Moniz

Thoughts? What children’s books are you loving these days?

P.S. Five children’s books that teach kindness, and 18 kids’ books with female characters.

(Photos of Today I Feel by Stella Blackmon for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Kassie says...

    I read this book to my 3 year old son and he started crying at the end and said “I love this book” while crying and asked me to read it again. I’m not sure what it means, but it clearly brought out a lot of emotions in him. Anyone else have a similar experience?

  2. Frances says...

    I’m going to try and find that book here in Australia to have in my classroom. At the school I work at, we have noticed many children find it hard to express their emotions. One reason may be that they have not developed the vocabulary to articulate their emotions. Books like this are integral to supporting children’s emotional literacy. Do children in other countries face similar challenges? Thanks for sharing!

  3. Cat says...

    First time comment here! I’m Portuguese and today I also read that lovely book to my middle daughter! Fantastic to see it here, in the English version!

  4. Saxton Freymann says...

    I am very happy to see so much interest in children’s emotional intelligence. Almost twenty years ago I wrote and illustrated a book called “How Are You Peeling?” to encourage children to talk about their emotions and develop an understanding of the emotional states of others. The subject has only become more important. If you are interested, check out what eeBoo.com has to offer. I have recently created “conversation cards” for eeBoo, called “I Heard Your Feelings”. Another set of conversation cards, “What Do I Do?” encourages conversations about social navigation, which of course involves a variety of skills, including social and emotional literacy. And there are more projects in the works… So glad to have been introduced to this site!

    • Karen says...

      Your book is a staple in my preschool curriculum!! And my kids and I play Crazy Faces from Eeboo almost every day- the surprised apple is our favorite, though the green onion is a close second. I’m definitely checking out the conversation cards. ?

  5. Brooke A. says...

    I’m late commenting but wanted to recommend the book for adults called “Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys.” It’s super helpful to me in explaining how boys suffer from less emotional literacy even from a very early age in our culture. I’m working on changing that with my own 3 year old son! I have sent a copy of the book to a few friends with boys as well.
    Now, off to read the 15 new tabs I opened just from reading this comment thread :)

  6. Pi says...

    I think it’s absolutely useful and interesting this Kind of Books. Something that could explain them what Kind of emotions they’ll feel along their life. Most of the time when you don’t recoignize a feeling or emotion, as you don’t have a reference, it could be complicate to manage.

    I take note about this book (for when I’ll have a Child) ??

  7. Jen says...

    I just learned the nuance between jealousy and envy. It turns out, most of the time people are envious, not jealous. Surprising what things you learn as an adult that you never knew! So fascinating!

    Envy is a two-person situation whereas jealousy is a three-person situation. Envy is a reaction to lacking something. Jealousy is a reaction to the threat of losing something.
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/joy-and-pain/201401/what-is-the-difference-between-envy-and-jealousy

  8. Jen says...

    Loving all the comments!

    Looking for suggestions on a book re: saying goodbye / difficult transitions. My 6yr old is going to a new school this September, and saying goodbye to her first best friend and school of three years. It was in this space that she learned to speak English, read, and grew from a painfully shy toddler to a confident child. Books have always helped in times of transitions, so I’m hoping this awesome community can help throw out some unknown titles (at least to me)!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what a sweet girl! she might like the kissing hand: http://amzn.to/2FmwVs1

    • Meagan says...

      I would recommend ‘Lenny and Lucy’ by Philip and Erin Stead as well as ‘The Lion and the Bird’ by Marianne Dubuc. Both deal with friendship, loss, and transitions. Plus, they are thoughtfully written and beautifully illustrated!

    • Jen says...

      Thanks Joanna and Meagan. haha I teared up when I saw the Kissing Hand. That was the book that helped her transition into her first group care setting. haha too much momfeels all the time.

    • Not about friendship but about transition and leaving behind things we love, our family loves “Florette” about a little girl and her family moving to a new home in a strange city. Gorgeous illustrations and helped us a lot when we moved overseas.

  9. Hayley says...

    I love this! I have been an elementary teacher for the past nine years and I truly feel that teaching emotional awareness and regulation skills are the most important part of our daily classroom life.

    At my current school we use the RULER program from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. http://ei.yale.edu/ruler/ruler-overview/
    It’s awesome because we create a mood meter with the kids and help them chart all different emotions. We work together to understand that no emotions are “bad”, but there are times we need to regulate our emotions or “move” to a different color on the mood meter. We use it a lot with music in my classroom. Last week a student reported that the Scooby Doo theme song put him in the “blue” quadrant, because he worried about where Scooby was!

  10. Nina says...

    Having worked with abused and neglected and behaviorally disturbed children, we often were told in trainings that boys in the US are taught to get angry and girls are taught to cry. As a response to almost any feeling. And we must work to change that. I find it super frustrating that few educators seem to do this. My son’s 4th grade teacher keeps saying “the boys are so sensitive and act like girls.” Um, no the boys act like boys. this makes me so frustrated.

  11. belinda says...

    beautiful and so true xoxxoxo i read your post to my 7 year old

  12. Joe AND Ellisa says...

    We enjoyed a book called Goodbye Christmas by Author illustrator Gary Clark. We found it on Amazon a Kindle E book. It’s about loss, friendships around Christmas time. Compassion for the hardships of animals and others. It has the most beautiful illustrations in it. The children loved it

  13. Sarah says...

    Do the boys describe themselves as feeling “brilliant” sometimes? That would be so sweet.

  14. jolene says...

    The book looks amazing! So this is a little off topic but have you been keeping up with the #metoo reckoning that’s going on over in the kidlit sphere? I thought you might be interested bc a lot of names have been put out there (including a lot of authors you’ve featured here over the years like sherman alexie, mo willems, matt de la pena) and i’ve been thinking a lot about how to address that. what do you do when your favorite authors are not as wonderful as you imagined? i thought about this a lot as a 20-something when i found out that roald dahl and dr. seuss were pretty racist bc roald dahl was my favorite author of all time. and now my kids love Thunder Boy Jr. and Piggie and Gerald and Pigeon and it makes me feel weird now to read those books every night and support these men. Would love to hear your two cents.

    • Frieda says...

      Hello Jolene,
      since I had just yesterday a discussion with a friend about this, I would like to share some thoughts: My friend and I are both very troubled because it feels like you can’t watch any movie, read any book or listen to any music without learning of some story of sexual harrasement related to it. It led us to the core question if one can seperate art from the artist. Because this books represented here e.g. are great literature, which touches us and can make us readers better persons. Even though the author behaved really wrong and immorral. And we can’t give this up!
      Instead we should stop heroizing people. After all, the creater of our favorite book, movie or song is as likely or unlikely to be nice or violent as any casher who never gets glorified for his job. There is no heros, just people who sometimes help and sometimes hurt each other. But until they are not imprisoned for a crime, they can do their work for society – wether it’s selling grocerys or telling a story. Both are important jobs which need to be done in a running society and the person doing it fulfils majorly a role. What do you think? Is that a valid conclusion?

    • Natasha says...

      I actually purchased this book as it sounded amazing and then saw ‘D for Daring’ was a little boy kissing a little girl and it didn’t seem she had first given consent (she is looking front on in the picture so it seems the kiss will be by surprise) so I felt really uncomfortable too. I’m not sure how to address that with my son – am I reading into things or is this something that should be addressed?

  15. Kathryn says...

    Our school district has implemented the “Emotional Tool Kit” as part of the curriculum, and it is one of my favorite things about the school. Not only are they teaching emotional intelligence, but I think it is a good equalizer, it helps the teachers in the classroom, and it is a great thing to use at home. I highly recommend bringing it to your PTA and/or your administration.
    http://www.berkeleyschools.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Toolbox_Brochure_6pp_130801.pdf

  16. Maria says...

    What a great book! This would have been so helpful to me as a child.
    I’ve got a five-year-old godson who’s a big reader, so I’m always looking for good books for him. The books section of Busboys and Poets (in D.C.) is my go-to. I recently found this one about how mistakes are invitations to imagine bigger, more magical things:
    https://www.amazon.com/Book-Mistakes-Corinna-Luyken/dp/0735227926/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1520355354&sr=8-1

  17. This book looks so precious! I got my degree in clinical counseling a few years ago and would have died to have a book like this to work with my kids and help them express their feelings! Now I can use it with my own little man… And throughout our journey with his heart defect diagnosis, I could probably use it myself :) thanks for sharing.

  18. SO GOOD. Even as an adult I have so many light bulb moments in therapy as my counselor gives me language for my feelings and my experiences. I come in to her office feeling distressed, sad, or anxious. And as we work through it in a session, we begin to give voice to all the confusing things happening internally. I’m realizing how important it is to have language for pain. Otherwise, we internalize it and feel we’re strange or at fault simply because we’ve never sorted it out. Love this book and the idea.

  19. Keri says...

    No One Likes a Fart -Zoe Foster-Blake.
    If you feel like laughing…

  20. Linda says...

    JEALOUS! ?
    I am working on my first children’s book! This beautiful little book is just amazing, thank you for sharing.

  21. Aly says...

    Cup of Jo strikes again. Another children’s book I’m buying thanks to your recommendation. Love it!!

  22. Mariana says...

    Hi!
    Thank you for this post. I started reading thinking “I wonder if the book exists in portuguese”. Then I found it was writen by a portuguese author. What a joy!
    Kiss
    Mariana, Portugal

  23. I love this so much! Anton’s honesty- and yours about not realising what he had been feeling. Also, Lora’s comment about how teenagers express themselves. I don’t have children yet, but I am a tutor and I see this in the kids I teach: girls going on and on about their feelings, often with surprising maturity and frank vulnerability, asking questions, digging deep even. The boys usually just shrug and want to move on to another subject. Yet one of my little boys, when he’s had a bad day, he always sits very close to me and leans on my shoulder. He sometimes says nothing, but others he just whispers ‘it was not a very good day’- and often, by the end of the lesson, through questions and little jokes and me talking about my day, I get it out of him. And we may or may not talk about it, but at last it’s off his chest.

  24. Nice Article! The children’s book I love is Buddy the Bear by Victoria Allen. It’s a new high flying bedtime story adventure that will take you to the stars.

  25. Natasha says...

    I remember reading somewhere (maybe here? lol!) that anger isn’t actually an emotion, but it’s more of a reaction to something deeper, a more complex emotion, like sadness or loneliness. That has always stayed with me as I parent our 5-year old son. He often says “I’m so angry!!” about something, so I try to honor that, and also try to work through what the emotion is that’s creating the anger. Thanks for the heads up on this awesome book! Love your blog so so much. xo

  26. Frieda says...

    That sounds like such a hilarious book. I’m really considering to buy it rightaway – even though I have no children to read to (yet). But it might be an interesting coffee table book for adults since so many adults I know feel like having to hide their emotions to function well in their job, as partner, friends, … . Might be a cute reminder that there is not only happy, stressed and exhausted to feel like. :)
    Btw, how many feelings are described in it?

    Lot’s of love to all the parents writing here. It’s truely amazing that so many parents still read to their children in times of audio books, TV and smartphone.

  27. Renee says...

    My five-year old boy is gifted and has had a lot of pretty big fears, to the point that he was struggling to learn or show what he knows at school. There were a few frustrating, sad years where it seemed like he was going to lose his entire early childhood to anxiety. As a psychologist myself, it was hard to figure out what to do…after some unsuccessful therapy experiences, it seemed that the gentlest approach was to work on coping skills and self-regulation at home through picture books. Jabari Jumps, I Can Handle It, Don’t Feed the Worry Bug, and When Sophie Says I Can’t give him confident mantras to repeat to himself when he’s feeling uncertain. Breathe and Be, and Meditate with Me help us (me too!) to work on mindfulness in a kid-friendly way, and there are many more. Now, he can often do deep breathing and reassure himself all on his own. I am SUCH a believer in children’s literature, and this one will be a lovely addition to our bookshelf.

  28. Move Over Rover by Lui D’Amato is a great family book. Teaches kids about the relationship with a family pet. Many of my friends love this book. They’re kids want it read over and over! Bright illustrations and heartwarming. Something everyone with pets and children can relate to.

  29. Kara says...

    Yet again this is comment section gold! I think a lot about how to teach my 2.5 year old son to express his emotions freely and comfortably. He feels things in a big way (much like his mama). I have a very hard time talking to others about how I’m feeling and expressing myself, and like so much else in parenting, I want my kid to be better than me. I’m so looking forward to reading all of these books with him!

  30. How wonderful! In my daughter’s class each day every student takes a turn calling out their emotion at the time. It’s not a lengthy process, but gives each student the opportunity to name his or her own feelings and recognize the many different feelings of others in the class.

  31. Wow, what a powerful idea. I’m excited to read it with my children, and think they would all benefit on different levels (they are 8, 6, nearly-4 and nearly-2)…

    A really great picture book on toddler feelings is ‘my big shouting day’ which I heartily recommend to anyone with a child under 5 – I have read it hundreds of times and I still find it totally charming; children love it, and it really does accurately depict what it is like being a toddler in a bad mood! (And so often we deny children the chance to just feel grumpy)

    I wrote about it – and some other picture books – here:
    https://themumandthemom.com/2016/12/10/books-to-give-to-children-that-they-wont-already-have/

    And also a more recent post on children’s books – picture and chapter books – here:

    https://themumandthemom.com/2018/01/28/childrens-books-revisited/

    I always look forward to your book recommendations as they have always been books we end up loving here too – and there are always great recommendations in the comments, too! Thanks so much!

    Hxx

  32. Thank you for this!! I had just a few days ago commented on the teenager post about wishing for more content on encouraging the emotional lives of boys. And here this is! Going to buy this book for my family and basically everyone I know with kids, sons especially. ❤️❤️❤️

  33. I can’t wait to read this book to my daughter Rosie. Thank you for sharing it :-)

    We recently explored the concept of loneliness with Rosie, because the Tiger in one of her favorite books, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown, felt like he didn’t fit in.

    Loneliness feels like an important concept for young kids to learn early, to help us try to raise little people with generous, open-minded, and inclusive instincts.

    I wrote a little more about it here, along with some other favorite books, for anyone interested: http://www.thislifeisbelle.com/home/2018/2/22/for-the-love-of-books

  34. Reem says...

    What a lovely book. I am always noting thoughtful children’s books to give as gifts, and this is now going at the top of my list!

  35. Claire says...

    My son is 16 now, and reading The Great Gatsby for his English class, but I recently bought a copy of The Lost Words, by Robert MacFarlane, for myself because I love children’s books, and because I follow him on twitter and thought it looked so beautiful- and it is.

  36. Teresa says...

    As a Portuguese reader of your blog I’m so glad to find a Portuguese auhor referred to here. There’s a log of great books for children by Portuguese authors these days, though I’m not sure if they are all translated into English. You should definetly check Isabel Minhós Martins’s books. They’re awesome.

  37. Elizabeth says...

    Last night I read My Farm by Alison Lester to my kids. My parents read it to me when I was little. She is my favourite children’s author. The book reminded me of my childhood growing up on a small farm and by the last page when the main character got a new pony I was choking up.

    • I LOVE Alison Lester’s books! I’m 23 and while I don’t kids yet, I’ve started to collect a few of my favourite children’s books and I couldn’t resist buying Imagine by Alison Lester :) I grew up reading them and Imagine was one of my childhood favourites.
      My Mum is a teachers aid so she has quite a collection of books and I recently bought her My Farm and Magic Beach both by Alison Lester to add to her collection.

  38. Sarah says...

    Totally digging this. As the mom of a toddler just on the cusp of speaking, this book does twofold: it reinforces the ABCs and it gives language to the feelings. (Toddlers have so. much. feelings.) We as adults may recognize jealousy, but children don’t always have the language for those feelings. Great recommendation–I’ll be putting it on our “Wish List” for the grandparents!

  39. Lana says...

    I can’t wait to check this out from our library. My seven year old daughter is having a really hard time at school (she’s getting in trouble for talking at inappropriate times and having a hard time following directions). It’s so hard for little people! Personally, I think part of the problems kids are having is that they don’t have the same freedoms that we did or enough outside time to explore their world!
    Recently I’ve been looking into dietary changes and food is so much more than eating healthy. Some kids—especially those with adhd, autism, anger issues, and general fidgetiness—often have a sensitivity to something in their diet that goes so far beyond too much sugar and artificial dyes. Some kids react really badly to salicylates and getting teen out of their diet is a chore, but one that really will make a difference. Anyway, sending lots of love to all the parents out there who are giving it their all. I feel like our generation really has it the hardest. We are the first to really be “woke” and mindful about differences and are still navigating the waters of recognizing how much our little people feel. ❤️

    • Nina says...

      Yes! I follow a low-salicylate (also low-amine and low-glutamate) diet myself and it makes such a difference to my mood and what we’d call in a child ‘behaviour’. It’s a particularly tricky one because by trying to eat super-healthily, i.e. a wide variety of fruit, veg, and herbs etc., I was actually eating a very high-salicylate diet. Anyone interested in these intolerances should look up the FAILSAFE diet, and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Australia. (Sugar also affects my mood and anxiety in a huge way – I can get pretty close to a toddler-style tantrum at age 37 when my blood sugar is on the wobble.)

  40. Laura says...

    On the note of how girls generally articulate feelings compared to boys, I also notice a difference across languages. For example, in Spanish, both “te amo” and “te quiero” can translate to “I love you,” but I wouldn’t use those two statements (amo vs. quiero) interchangeably. And in Spanish, I feel like there’s more variety of commonly heard emotions (not necessarily that there’s more words for emotions – I wouldn’t know that) in everyday speech. A lot of statements said in Spanish might sound cheesy for everyday conversation if translated to English. Of course, this is all anecdotal.

  41. Kathleen says...

    Growing up, one of my favorite books that my mother read to me and my sister all the time was “The Paper Bag Princess.” (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008DYZKQE/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1)

    It was such an amazing book to be read to us, from a smart, independent & “inside counts, not outside” mom. As girls, I feel like it went a long way counteracting the Disney stories without invalidating that we loved those, too.

    And such a great message for little girls – to stand up for themselves and be who they are., without worrying what other people think about them. It’s also hilarious!

    • Melody says...

      The Paper Bag Princess is on repeat with my 3 year old son right now. We love it, too.

  42. Noelle says...

    Somewhat related, but there’s a meditation app I’ve been using for years called “Stop, Breathe, Think”. Part of the app allows you to do a check-in and select emotions you’re currently feeling (and you can also track your emotional state before/after meditation). I’ve learned from that app, and from therapy, that naming my emotions can be so difficult sometimes! :)

  43. Julia says...

    Again while reading this, I become aware again that my 9 yr old boy is
    rather getting angry and furious, screaming, slamming doors etc when in fact he is simply sad, frustrated and/or exhausted. Especially when he is tired after school or after a sports activity he doesn’t know how to calm himself down or relax – I think he even does NOT KNOW that he is actually exhausted. AND: it is almost impossible for us to know what’s coming next. So out of the blue: ….Booooom! Instead of searching for a quiet place for himself, he starts a fight with us. Does anybody have the same experience? – a kid that rather screams loudly than cries softly? :-)

    • Laurie says...

      Oh yes, oh yes. Going to download the “Stop breathe think” app suggested by Noelle (commented right after you). And talk through the different “layers” of emotions (as the psychologist in the post says) that kids (maybe especially boys) feel that seem to lead often to level 10 anger.

    • Laurie says...

      You often have to wait for a quiet, calm time after the angry storm passes to discuss the strategies. Too hot to handle at the time.

    • Cat W says...

      My 10yr old daughter is the same, content or furious and lashing out, no awareness of in between. We’ve actually spent some time with a parenting coach to help things;
      – saying “I feel” statements, so I feel sad when you shout, rather than “you make me frustrated when you’re shouting”
      – as soon as she has escalated to the point of shouting we suggest she takes some time to calm down and then talk when she is calm about the situation, what led up to it, what we can do differently next time. I was trying to help her calm down – never worked!
      – self esteem work, we’re giving specific praise for herself and her behaviours so she feels more secure in herself and her abilities to deal with a situation.
      It all sounds so blooming obvious, but we were definitely missing a few of the components that have really made a difference. Oh and I’m trying to actively model mindfulness and meditating practice so she knows that it’s a tool she can use too – it’s really helped me stay calm in the face of the child banshee moments! Xxx

    • alison says...

      You are SO not alone in this. My son is super sensitive and sweet and has been having a rough time learning how to deal when he gets angry. My friend suggested creating a “suitcase” of strategies to use when he gets in these moments-maybe some meditation, listen to a song, punch a pillow, go for a run, etc. All things that may work to re-center him and get him to calm down (we JUST spoke about this over the weekend so I haven’t gotten him to try it out yet). Good luck!

  44. Katie says...

    Any suggestions for an almost 5 year old struggling with things that aren’t her favorite. Like a teacher who is not her favorite getting labeled as she doesn’t like the person or a color that isn’t her top #1 fave being one she doesn’t like at all? I think the extremes are hard with now with a lot of change before kindergarten and a birthday coming up, etc. Thanks in advance!

    • Claire says...

      I like Kevin Henke’s books for that age, for the stories that portray kids in a new or difficult situation that ultimately they end up working through. Chester’s Way, Chrysanthemum, Owen, Wemberly Worried, Julius the Baby of the World, Sheila Rae the Brave….they are all gems.

  45. Jessica says...

    I always love your children’s book recommendations! I often find myself referring back to them for my sister’s kids around birthdays and Christmas.

  46. One hundred thousand somethings by Ryan Forbes! It’s silly and funny and the illustrations are great. My kids love it! And my friend from high school wrote it!

    • kristen says...

      YES! We are reading Dont Push the Button over and over at our house! I love that theres another one like it! I’m ordering that right now…

  47. I’m a school social worker at a private elementary school here in Brooklyn, and I adore this book (as do my students!)

    It’s so true that simply providing children with an opportunity to develop language is a powerful step in supporting kids in expressing and validating their emotions.

    I also really enjoy “Everyone” by Christopher Neal, which emphasizes the universal and transitory nature of feelings.

  48. This book looks lovely (and important!) and your story is so sweet, but my understanding is that the emotion pictured in the book and described by Anton is in fact envy, not jealousy. I could be wrong, but I think wanting what someone else has = envy, while jealousy = fear of losing what you already possess. Since I learned this I’ve noticed that almost every time someone mentions being jealous, they mean envious! You can “jealously guard” your CD collection, or feel jealous if your partner flirts with someone else; but what you experience over your friend’s amazing trip to Spain or your sister’s new haircut is envy.

    • t says...

      Hi Nina, I do believe you describe two of the three definitions of jealous but the third is: “feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages.”

    • Meg says...

      I never paid attention that closely! Mind blown haha

    • Julia says...

      I believe the difference between the two words is also that if you are jealous you do not feel that the other person deserves having what you do not have. While when you envy someone you simply wish you could have the same experience too.

    • Janesfriend says...

      Thanks Nina, I read the comments just to make sure someone had corrected this point!

    • Nina says...

      That 3rd definition is, I think, a reaction to the common [mis]usage – and of course language is how it’s used, etc, but in this case (especially in the context of this discussion about the power of being able to name feelings) I feel the difference matters and the blurring of the two words in modern usage is a shame. It’s so widespread that I know I’m fighting a losing battle here! But I felt like learning the difference between the two words clarified the feelings for me, and perhaps it’ll do the same for others.

  49. Hollie says...

    Love this, and the conversations it brings. As a therapist, I’m constantly talking and thinking about something I heard years ago:
    “There’s a lot of sad in men’s mad, and a lot of mad in women’s sad”. The conversations that Lora has with her youth that were mentioned above reminded me of this saying…

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, WHAT a quote, hollie.

    • JulieB says...

      I love this quote! Recently, while playing around with the enneagram, I realized I use the word “frustrated” to describe an emotion that would much more accurately be termed angry. It’s usually internally directed and it always seems more acceptable to be frustrated by a mistake, rather than angry. So I’ve worked on giving myself permission to actually name the emotion that I’m feeling.

    • kaela says...

      Wow. Such an insightful quote.

  50. Lily Yu says...

    Lora’s quote about the boys reverting to anger as the only viable/”safe” emotion to express reminds me so much of the documentary The Mask You Live In (therepresentationproject.org/film/the-mask-you-live-in). So many interesting perspectives about the ways we raise, communicate with, and teach boys, and the cultural and societal implications and impacts of those decisions.

  51. Bekah says...

    On a similar note, Theo’s Moods, is another great book for kids and complex emotions!

  52. Elizabeth says...

    Wow! This post literally couldn’t be more timely. I just got off the phone with a family friend who is an elementary school counselor. We were talking about how to help my 4.5 year old boy who is smart and fun-loving, but is having an extremely difficult time coping and regulating his emotions and frustrations. She suggested the book “Today I Feel Silly” by Jamie Lee Curtis. Fingers crossed it helps (and this one looks great, too!). It can be so tough.

    • Emma says...

      Elizabeth — you’ve just described by 4.5 year old son exactly! We’re having such a hard time helping him regulate his emotions these days. He’s so quick to get upset and cry, and often has a hard time recovering. It’s comforting to know that other moms and boys are out there dealing with the same issues. Would love to hear if there are moms of older kids who have been through this (and any suggestions they might have)! Fingers crossed for all of us.

    • I taught gifted elementary students, and we had a huge focus on emotions, especially since the students often felt things very intensely. This book was a fantastic tool to start conversations about emotions; hope it helps your young man as much as it did my students!

    • Hannah says...

      I love and adore this book! I discovered it in highschool with a few friends and we were all stuck by how silly and charming it was while making feelings so understandable for kids. I bought a copy then and I still have it. I can’t wait for my son to be old enough to enjoy it.

    • Sara says...

      My boy is only three but we are in this same boat. A lot of the time I’m just giving cautionary advice (be careful, that’s hot!) and I think that he feels like he’s in trouble. I know he doesn’t have the vocabulary to express himself. Based on a post I read (I think on here?), I try to say it’s ok for you to feel sad, but it’s not ok for you to ___. SUCH A STRUGGLE!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      toby has a very hard time regulating his emotions. he works hard on it (sweet boy!) but rolling with the punches is definitely much harder for him than anton. he can get very upset by general frustrations, changes in plan, etc. we’ve learned to do a few things that help — for example, we often write down the basic schedule for the day (with the understanding that it might change), and this has been very very helpful. we also encourage him to “be flexible” throughout the day when there are changes in plan, etc., and try to acknowledge when he is trying hard at this.

      for everyday frustrations/meltdowns, sometimes we just have to wait it out; other times i’ll sit down next to him (even if it’s on the floor) and just say “i love you, toby, i’m here for you,” and that can help start him start calming down just to know he’s supported; and we talk about how some things are “glitches,” some things are “bummers,” and some things are “disasters,” and that helps him understand that not all frustrations are epic, even if they feel that way. he’ll tell us “okay, it’s just a glitch, it will be okay.”

      we have learned more things, too, but those are off the top of my head! overall just getting decent sleep helps, too, and (for us at least) cutting down on sugar.

      these kids all sound so radiant and wonderful, but it’s not always easy to parent a highly sensitive child! :)

    • Alice says...

      Ditto on having a frustrated and angry 4.5 year old. Up until a month or so ago he was gentle, respectful, thoughtful, and he mostly still is but there’s a rage now that explodes and I’m trying to help him find a way to guide himself through to calmness again without making him feel he’s being wrong to have those feelings. So hard! He even says “I’m crying! I can’t rub my tears away.” in a bewildered voice – heartbreaking. I’m looking into both the book you featured Jo, and this Jamie Lee Curtis one, and I too would love to hear from mums who came out the other side of this!

    • Amy says...

      Chiming in as another mom of a 4.5 year old boy; lately I’ve been struggling with how to help him be more emotionally resilient. Is that even possible when you’re a preschooler? I know coping is hard when you’re little, and mood regulation is just so tough (even when you’re not little!) but I just…. I don’t know, I just worry, when he’s having a full meltdown, that I’m reacting in a way that will help him learn what he needs to to be happy and healthy in the future. So glad to hear I’m not the only one one, and I’ll be looking up both books. Thanks, fellow moms! You’re doing great!

    • Emma says...

      Joanna — thank you so much for your response. As I mentioned above, we’re really in the thick of it right now with my sweet boy. It’s been such a strain: it’s hard for him, and exhausting for us to have to always respond with patience and kindness. I’m so worried about the struggles he will face in life because he seems to feel things so deeply. And I hate that I’m often in the position of trying to explain to others why he gets so upset. My heart breaks watching him because I know that soon his peers will start noticing how extreme some of his reactions are, and I hate the thought that he will feel any shame because of it.

      I’m searching for answers for him — been speaking with a play therapist and think we may have him start meeting with her. He’s currently in an integrated classroom at preschool and I’m finding his teacher especially frustrating to deal with because she’s decided something is “wrong” with him. It’s hard to know whose advice to take. He’s starting kindergarten in the Fall and I’m so worried about what that transition will be like.

      Anyway, thank you again for creating this community where it’s possible to vent and feel supported. This isn’t something anyone else I know is dealing with, so it’s reassuring to come here and read that I’m not alone.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, emma, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. there are so many parents out there who get what you’re going through, even if you don’t know them yet. i wish we could all get together.

      this time sounds really hard and disorienting, and you have so much on your shoulders. you sound like an amazing mother, and i promise you it will get easier. that’s great that you’ve found a play therapy group; hopefully it will help you meet other great parents/kids who are experiencing similar things. and your therapist might be able to help you navigate school and any next steps to help your sweet little guy. thinking of you.

      as for trying to stay patient, i hear you! sometimes i feel like i just don’t have the bandwidth, especially at the end of a long day. taking breaks and taking care of yourself is also so important. wish i could beam myself there to give you a hug from one mother to another. sending so much love through the internet.

      PS you don’t live in brooklyn, do you? we could always meet for a walk. xoxoxo

    • Emma says...

      Joanna — it would be a dream to take a walk with you (!!), but I’m afraid I live outside of Boston, so meeting up would be hard. ;) Still, I thank you for your virtual hug — it means a lot.

      I’ve been following your blog since it’s earliest days, and I feel such a kinship to you because many of my life’s biggest milestones have happened in parallel to yours. I also have two boys, exactly the same ages as Toby and Anton (though in my case it’s the younger one who is struggling). I don’t know quite how to express how much this blog and its community means to me, and thank you so much for creating it and shepherding it the way you do. xoxo

    • Florencia says...

      A book that I loved when my son was little (and is still my go to gift for parents of little ones) is the “Cookie Book: Bite Size Life Lessons” by the amazing Amy Krouse-Rosenthal. She goes through different emotions using cookies as examples: Cooperate means “how about you add the chips and I’ll stir” , Patient means waiting and waiting for the cookies to be done, aren’t I waiting nicely?” She has a few different cookie books. I would then label these words for my son when he was doing it (or needed to): You were so patient in waiting while mommy was on the phone. I really appreciated it! “ooh, it looks like we need to cooperate!”(to which he would always smile and say “Like the cookie book!”). It also has a great cookie recipe in the back. Can’t recommend it enough!

    • Laura C. says...

      Joanna and commenters,
      The struggle is real, huh?. Since my eldest daughter (she turned 7 ten days ago) has Asperger’s , she is highly sensitive and very rigid and inflexible when it comes to changing plans and/or schedules. More often than not she cries, yells at me and runs over a sofa trying me not touching her. Sometimes it is very hard, but the thing that works me better is LOVE. I just try to hug her and when she starts to say “horrible” things I say “no, that’s not true, you do love me and I’m your mama and I will always be with you”. It is really hard sometimes not to shout at her to stop t and get over it, but that’s what works best for us.
      Thanks for these topics, Joanna. Thanks to the other moms too.

    • Elizabeth says...

      Oh my goodness- just reading these other comments. Frankly, I’m so relieved I’m not the only one going through this difficulty with coping/lack of emotional resiliency (I keep using that to describe what’s going on)/frustrations with my 4.5 year old. All of what y’all described fits us to a T! I hope everyone gets through it with relative ease and am grateful for this space. Thank you all for suggestions and tips, especially Joanna!

    • Sara says...

      Joanna, Elizabeth, and other amazing mamas, have any of you read about Highly Sensitive People? It’s a kind of silly sounding name, but I promise it’s real. I’m one myself and some of what you’re describing could have been me as a child. Worth taking a look into. Elaine Aron is the psychologist who has written about it. Just a thought in case it’s helpful!

    • sasha says...

      My gosh, I love this place. Tearing up reading such words of acceptance and love and support. We can do hard things mamas.

      May I thoughtfully suggest a couple books that informed my parenting, and my work with young children as a nanny? Hold on to Your kids by Dr Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate and Rest Play Grow by Dr Deborah Macnamara. Both are based on attachment theory and the idea that children and adults need to be in the proper alignment of power within their relationship with each other. (Power should not be confused with authoritarianism in any way).
      What I’ve experienced and observed: when this power relationship is out of whack, children become anxious. Power abhors a vacuum, in the absence of positive, trusted, consistent, dependable authority from the parent, children will seek the power in the relationship, and this is disastrous (have you observed families where the child is in charge? ?). Anxiety also manifests through tantrums, meltdowns, demands, controlling behavior, over stimulated senses…. The world is way too much for these children, because shouldering adult power is obviously too much for a child.
      If this has happened in your parent/child relationship it does not mean you are a bad parent (at all!!!) AND it can be remedied. When that happens your child will trust you on an innate and deep level, let go of fears and anxiety and a need to control every last thing, and be a calmer easier child. It’s not a *method* or anything like that, this teaching is an acknowledgement of how human relationships are supposed to work. You work on yourself as the parent, and the child miraculously follows suit. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. Anxious unhappy very difficult children with numerous *issues* become easy happy children, when the parent comes into their proper power.
      If this sounds like it could be you, there may be workshops based on Dr Neufeld’s work in your community, the books are a good start and therapists specialize in his work as well. He even does consults from Canada I believe.
      I hope this very long post was helpful for someone. This work saved my family ♥️

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      What a lovely comment, Sasha, thank you! I think that approach could definitely work wonders for some families. I also think it’s important to note that some forms of mental health and learning differences — like autism, ADHD, depression, bipolar, sensory processing disorder, generalized anxiety, etc. — are real, biological, physical conditions that parenting techniques DO NOT CAUSE. all these wonderful parents are working hard, doing the best they can and helping their children in so many ways, including just by loving them exactly the way they are :)

  53. Liz says...

    A few days ago my 2 1/2 year old daughter was playing a tricky tracing game on the ipad (it’s super sensitive and can get frustrating for the kids). I was helping her with it and then went to the bathroom. When I came back she was playing a different game. I asked her why she wasn’t playing the tracing game anymore and she said, “Mom, that game made me mad and this game makes me happy. I don’t want to play a game that makes me mad. I want to play this game because it makes me happy. And that game made me mad.” I was totally surprised she understood her feelings and then could communicate them better than most adults! In my mind I thought, ” Well then, carry on! Can’t argue with that.”

    • L says...

      Ha! Much smarter than many adults!

  54. Hayley says...

    Love books like these. I’m working with my 2 (almost 3) year old when she says things like “I don’t like it.” most of the time she really means, “I don’t want to.” or “I don’t want that.” Like she’ll tell me she doesn’t like peanut butter, but she does, she just doesn’t want it right now. Trying to help her understand that liking something doesn’t mean wanting something.

  55. Emma says...

    I love “The Quiet Book” by Deborah Underwood. Each page depicts a different scenario of when you would be quiet or feel quiet. Like “trying to be invisible quiet” (the animal is about to get a shot!), “best friends don’t need to talk quiet” (skipping rocks), “what flashlight quiet” (caught with a flashlight when you should be asleep), “last one to get picked up from school quiet”, “first snowfall quiet”, “car ride at night quiet”, etc. I shows the emotion of feeling quiet in all of it’s many forms that super relatable to children. I love it and so does my little boy! I head she wrote a loud book too that I would love to read!

    • SR says...

      We LOVE the Quiet Book! Read it every night to our almost 3-year-old little boy.

  56. kerri says...

    I know this post is about books, but because you’re talking about emotions…yesterday we borrowed the movie Cars from the library because my son, 3, is obsessed with them! There is a part of the movie where they show how the town of Radiator Springs was full of life when Route 66 was the only road, and how after the highway was built, it just deteriorated. I looked over at my son, and he is sniffling and crying. I asked him what was wrong and he said it was sad, it made him sad. I was really surprised because to me that seemed like a kind of sadness that would be difficult for little ones to get, but he got it.

    • Abi says...

      Wow! It is so sweet that his heart was touched by that.

  57. Evie says...

    Reminds me of the post you did about untranslatable words. Isn’t it the best feeling when you realize there is a word in another language that perfectly describes how you are feeling.

    • Alice says...

      Such a good point – we all appreciate being able to name feelings!

  58. Vicki says...

    What a wonderful book! I love how there is just one word on the page giving the reader room to fill that all in with discussion about the picture and your own experiences – a conversation starter for sure!

  59. Tara says...

    We talk about emotions often with our almost 4 year old. We love books by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, especially “Its Not Fair” and “Cookies: Bite Size Life Lessons”. Definitely want to order this one as well.

  60. Natalie says...

    LOVE to see this book and this post! I’m not a mother yet, but as an early childhood educator this is the thing I talk to parents about most. It’s SO important to give words to feelings beyond the simple “happy, sad, mad.” Providing the language gives the foundation for social emotional development and allows children to see that no one is happy all the time and that’s okay.

    Also, this can be done in most children’s books by simply asking “how do you think [the character] feels right now?” (older) or adding your own thought “They must be so frustrated/confused/disappointed right now!” after a conflict (younger).

  61. Sarah P. says...

    We are in the thick of teaching our 3 yr old boy to identify and regulate his emotions and have sought out family therapy for support. Our son is possibly on the gifted spectrum and classified as a “big feeler”. Lots of emotional dysregulation that has thrown us for a loop. The process of “emoting” constantly is one of the tools we have employed to help him recognize what he is feeling and how his body is reacting to that feeling. Then we work together to develop coping mechanisms – take a break, take a deep breath, ask for a big bear hug (hard pressure is regulating), etc. It’s so tough to actually put into practice, but it has opened my eyes to how many feelings we cycle through in one day and how essential it is to learn the skill of emotional regulation/intelligence at an early age. Something lots of adults don’t even have mastered! This looks like a great tool and something we should be talking about more as parents. That kid that’s melting down at the store probably can’t actually control himself and it’s our responsibility as adults to help our children feel safe and heard. Feeling emotions and our reactions to them are OK! It’s how we learn to channel them, regulate them and work through them that is essential. My husband and I have to remind ourselves that we are raising adults and it’s all about the end game because it’s so easy to get lost in the daily struggles. Cheers to all the parenting warriors out there fighting the good fight!

    • Alice says...

      You sound like an amazing parent, Sarah! Cheers to you for a fantastically good and thoughtful fight x

    • Sarah P. says...

      Alice – thank you! ❤️ It truly means so much.

  62. sasha says...

    Joanna, thank you for caring about books ♥️ and for always having such wonderful children’s literature recommendations.
    Here’s one we love in my play school.
    https://www.amazon.com/How-Are-Peeling-Scholastic-Bookshelf/dp/0439598419
    It’s so fun for children to identify how the fruit or veggie character may be feeling, and then see if they can pretend to have that emotion themselves. This often leads to taking about why our fruit/veg friend may be having that emotion. So many wonderful skills here: identifying children’s own emotions and reading emotions in others, and empathy and understanding for what might make one feel that way. Plus an angry red pepper is really silly. It helps us all see that emotions are like passing clouds in the sky. We are the sky, not the clouds.
    After we read this story, I see children *reading* emotions for the rest of the day. “Miss Sasha, Scout is sad.” (Scout the dog is begging, unsuccessfully.) “Look how happy Iris is because I gave her a turn!”
    ♥️♥️♥️

    • Katherine says...

      We are the sky, not the clouds.

      This took my breath away, thank you for this beautiful reminder.

    • sasha says...

      Katherine, I think it’s Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching. He has many beautiful lessons for us all, and many applicable to children especially.

  63. I bought How Are You Feeling Today by Molly Potter when one of my twins
    (6 year olds) started hitting when she feels angry. I like that the book specifies the feeling, and even provides things to do when we experience such feeling without judgement (things that is hit with my kids: drawing clouds when you feel sad and imagine them floating away).

  64. Lizo says...

    Just bought! Thanks. I think my 4-5 year old will adore this :-)

  65. Celeste says...

    Buying and I love the social worker’s example.

  66. Nicole A. says...

    I had a series of “feelings” books as a kid by Joy Berry. They all are titled similarly, such as: “Let’s Talk About Feeling Angry” or “Let’s Talk About Feeling Scared.” It has really great illustrations and it is helpful in teaching kids to understand and navigate various emotions.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      these sound wonderful, thank you.

  67. Sounds like a great book and a book that would encourage creative storytelling. I can totally see myself sitting down with the girls (ages 6.5 and 5) and taking turns to start a conversation about experiencing each emotion. Such a great way to create an open dialogue with kids early on! I also think this would be a great addition to my 1st grader’s book club. Thank you so much for sharing!

  68. t says...

    What a beautiful book and such a good idea to describe various emotions but my children aren’t drawn to books without story lines or ones that are obscure.

    I would love to hear additional children’s book recommendations. I am so bored of reading pinkalicious to my four year olds.

  69. Hi Joanna,
    My friend/colleague Telmo photographed the illustrations of Madalena for this book. It is a crazy-precision-demanding task, since the light has to be super adjusted so the colours are exactly similar to those of the illustrations, when the book is printed. We have the Portuguese version in which the illustrations are different but equally stunning. What a coincidence! ?

  70. Katie says...

    “Still Stuck” by Shinsuke Yoshitake is HILARIOUS. We read it at a party and the adults were cracking up even through all 4 readings (because you know how these things go with the little ones). I’m smiling right now just thinking about the pants page.

  71. Lane says...

    And adding it to my Amazon cart now!

    • Samesies.

  72. Heather D says...

    Would this be appropriate for a 2 1/2 and a 3 year old? The little guy is very smart. I don’t have kids, so I have a hard time gauging what might work!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, i think so — it’s so, so simple, and you can just read the emotions and talk about the picture. they can grow into it, too. it’s one of those books that can work for many ages/levels.

  73. Alex says...

    My oldest is 5 and fascinated by the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of just about everything. It can be tricky to keep up! We checked out “Tiny Creatures – the world of microbes” and it was great. It’s totally a geeking out science book for kids but it also helped me explain why he receives shots [vaccinations] at the Dr. Sheltering kids in some circumstances is essential, but it can prove helpful to give them tools to logically process situations when their anxieties might kick in.

  74. Jenna says...

    Ordering! Correctly labeling emotions is something I have been working on with my 5 year old daughter, ever since I learned more about Emotional Intelligence through a seminar at work. I am currently expecting a boy and am curious/slightly scared of the difference in gender and emotional expression.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      congratulations on your baby news! fwiw, i’ve been so surprised by how emotionally available my boys are. before having kids, i thought boys (based on movies and pop culture) might be more rough-and-tumble/aloof/distant, but they are such little softies who just want cozy back rubs and long talks at bedtime. i really hope to keep fostering that as they get older. xoxo

    • t says...

      I have boy/girl twins and my son is much more expressive with his emotions than my daughter. Overall he is more sensitive and more aware of his feelings but seems to be less aware of other’s feelings. Once he is made aware of how someone else is feeling he is more empathetic. Having b/g twins has been the most wonderful experiment in nature vs nurture and how gender differences are real (he has more energy and is physically much stronger and has much higher muscle mass even though they are the exact same height) but also not (emotionally).

    • Emma says...

      I feel like so much of what we see as a gender difference in kids is actually our gendered, adult perspective on them. My parents were very strict with me (which I think about a lot with this post–I was often taught to suppress emotion, and that’s coming back to bite me now as a young adult), BUT they also pretty much ignored my gender, from the time I was born–dressing me in blue sailboats a lot (because my dad loves sailboats, haha). “What a cute boy!”

  75. Sarah says...

    Those are such beautiful illustrations.

  76. Adrienne says...

    I love this! I think I will get it for my girls. Even though my older one is 9 it would be great for her as she is full of different emotions but has a hard time describing how she is feeling.

  77. Claire says...

    I had a conversation about loneliness with my 6 and 3 year old yesterday over dinner. We talked about being lonely when others around and my 1st grader gave the example of feeling lonely when his friends play “shooter” games at school and he doesn’t play, just watches. Heart breaking but we came up with some ways to deal with it. Sounds like a great book.

    • Jen says...

      Your conversation made me think of the book “Invisible Boy” by Trudy Ludwig & Patrice Barton. It’s a book that talks about kindness, inclusion and even includes questions / add’l resources to further discussion on the topic. My preschooler and I both love it.