As a first time parent, I’m learning to understand my daughter’s feelings so I can help her to IDENTIFY, EXPRESS and MANAGE her emotions when they arise.

My daughter is not yet 6 years old with a limited vocabulary.  So I came up with a practical and visual way for her to quickly tell me how she feels, of course, in English and Chinese words.

Before jumping into my actual method, it’s necessary to talk about:

Why do parents need to teach our children to IDENTIFY and EXPRESS their feelings?

When we understand our children’s feelings behind those ‘NAUGHTY’ behaviours, we can help them to MANAGE and develop emotional intelligence.

I still remember the days when the naughty chair seemed to be the only option we had to manage our daughter’s ”naughty” behaviours.

Many times when my daughter was crying in the chair, alone and helpless, I was crying too. The air in the house was just not a happy place to be.

No doubt, I want to be a better parent. But I didn’t have the knowledge and tools to do that.


feeling and emotions words in chinese with pinyin and english

I said to myself I could do better than that. As always, books are where I turn to find the answers.

Many books later, I found the book, ‘How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk’ by Adele Faber, and Elaine Mazlish, helped me the most.

This book has provided real examples and practical techniques I could take away and apply straight away into our daily struggles.

In this book, the authors talked about:

  • How to understand kids’ feelings behind their behaviors and dissolve the would-be yelling, screaming, and arguments
  • Help your child to deal with their emotions, particularly those negative ones.
  • Express your emotion to your child in a constructive way so that you demonstrate to your child that anger, conflicts or disagreements can be resolved peacefully.

This book was an eye-opener for me as I’ve learned a lot of concepts that I never thought about before.

It has certainly inspired me to come up with my solution, which is what I’m going share with you next.

So, how to help a young child to IDENTIFY and EXPRESS feelings?

For a 5-year-old, my daughter doesn’t know that she’s already experiencing complicated feelings, and she doesn’t have the words to describe those feelings either let alone express and manage it. 

It only makes sense to teach her the words and provide examples so she can identify and express her feelings when the situation arises.

I thought the easiest way is to print out those frequently used words so that I can teach her visually.

At the same time, it’s also an excellent opportunity for my daughter to expand her vocabularies in both English and Chinese (One stone kills two birds 一石二鸟).

There are 23 pages (80 words) in this pack. The pages include:

2 x pages – I feel (我感觉) pages: one for a boy and one for a girl.

10 x pages – including 80 English and Chinese words.

10 x pages – for cutting out and match to the 80 words.

1 x page – a list of the 80 words in English and Chinese for easy tracking and referencing.

Watch the video below to get an idea of what the ‘My Feeling Pack’ looks like and how I teach my daughter in real action.

I usually go through 1-2 words once a week during our 30 minutes structured Chinese learning time.

I’d try to cove the following two steps (learning objectives) when teaching her these words about feelings.

When I said ‘’trying’’, it meant your child might want to talk about other feelings instead of the ones you were trying to teach. That’s perfectly ok because that’s learning to IDENTIFY and EXPRESS feelings as well.

The learning process should be child-led.  

Step 1 – Teach the words of feelings in English and Mandarin (recognition of new words).

When I teach, I’d firstly place one page (8 words) on the desk and then ask my daughter how many words out of the eight words she can recognise herself.

Generally, she’d tell me straight away some of the words she knows, or not, in English and or Mandarin Chinese.

For those English words that she doesn’t know, I find my daughter can easily sound out the words using the rules of the English phonics she’s been learning in school, though she may not know what they mean.

For those Chinese words, again, she can recognise some of them but not all. That’s when the Pinyin comes handy as they can help her to sound out the Chinese characters in Mandarin, without knowing the meaning of the words.


Parents, I can’t stress enough the importance for a young child to learn Pinyin before learning reading Chinese characters.

Similar to English phonics, once children have mastered the sounds and rules of Pinyin (Chinese Phonics), they can start to sound out the new Chinese characters in Mandarin by themselves. Pinyin is a must-have tool to support an ongoing and self-learning.

If your child hasn’t learnt the sound of each Pinyin alphabet yet, I’d suggest that you teach the sounds first. Here are some resources on my blog that you can read and watch to get it started.

What is Chinese Phonetics or Pinyin?

What forms Chinese phonics or Pinyin?

Why do children need to learn Pinyin?

what’s the best time to learn Chinese Pinyin?

How kids can learn and remember each Pinyin sound, the FUN way!

After your child is familiar with most of the sounds of Pinyin alphabets, it’s time to move on to blending.

The blending process itself is a reinforcement of the sounds. That’s why I’ve put Pinyin against all Chinese characters I teach to my daughter (note each Chinese character has one complete Pinyin).

I only teach simplified Chinese characters to my daughter.

I know I’ve talked about a lot in this step. But, really, it only takes no more than 2 minutes to teach each word in English and Chinese.

Reading out once is sufficient because you will repeat these words in Step 2 below.

Step 2 – Give examples and make sentences using the words ( Identify and Express)

Once you know your child can pronounce the words in English and Mandarin, go ahead to ask him/her to give you examples (stories) and make sentences, using those words.

Teach your child to identify feelings by saying I feel (我感觉)…(insert the word of feelings / 插入描述感觉的词语)… because (因为)…

This is crucial as it’s a golden opportunity for you to dig deep and get an insight into what your child understands, or not, about the new words they are learning.

Don’t be surprised that your child would give you a bunch of stories that are nowhere near to the words you’re talking about.

You know what, that’s great because it encourages open discussion and communication about feelings and emotions.

Your child might not be expressive for now. But, that’s why we are doing this for.

We’re teaching them to learn and use new words to identify and express their feelings as precise as possible, instead of throwing a tantrum, crying, screaming to release their emotions.


How to help your child to MANAGE feelings?

After having gone through the two steps above, by now, you’ve heard your child’s stories.

Either they are using the new words you’re teaching, or other words, they are sharing with you his/her feelings.

The first step to help your child manage his/her feelings is LISTENING.

I know it’s so attempting to jump straight in either offering solutions, advice or simply just brushing off our children’s feelings.


emotion and feelings words in chinese and english

Trust me, I’ve done all of the above.

Then, I read the book ‘How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk’’.

I learned LISTENING IS THE FIRST SKILL to help my child to MANAGE her feelings.

As a parent, I must admit that many things that are happening in my daughter’s world seem trivial to me. But for her, they are just as vital as me signing a new client.

I’m no perfect parent. But I’m consciously training myself every day to meet my daughter at her level, emotionally and physically.

Emotionally –  it means putting myself in my daughter’s shoes, respect who she is, don’t judge, deny and just accept her feelings. Regardless of how she feels about something, it is her feeling.

Note accepting feelings doesn’t mean to allow harmful actions, such as punching siblings or smashing something, which must be stopped.

Not sure about you but I know, as an adult, when I want to share my feelings with someone, I’m seeking a speech or a lecture. Instead, I just need someone to listen to me with a sympathetic ear.

Deep inside, I know what to do. But when I’m caught in the emotional whirlpool, I seem to lose my cool. Later, when I calm down, I will most likely come up with the solution.

Same applies to my daughter. I need to learn to look at her as a person, not just someone who belongs to me or must obey me.

By listening to her, I’m encouraging her to open more to me and modelling an effective way of communication.

When she grows up, she’d likely use the same way to communicate with others.

There are many practical techniques you can learn from this book. So there is no point for me to repeat here. I’ll leave you to read it yourself.

Physically – it means I need to lower my body down to her level and have eye contact with her when she’s expressing her feelings.

This body language seems so simple, but it’s beneficial.

You see, for young children, parents are the authority. Standing up like a tower before your our children don’t lead to a relaxed, loving and open talk.

We want our children to feel safe and comfortable to tell us anything without being judged.

What I’d do is to slightly lean towards my daughter after lowering my body to her level. Then, I’d hold her (young children love hugs), talk slowly with a soft or animated voice if that’s needed.

By doing this, I’m telling my child that I’m approachable and care about what she says.

I find 99% of the time after I’ve done all of the above, my daughter are happy again.

Of course, every child is different. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. But as long as you are making an effort, you will find the best way to help your child identify, express and manage his/her feelings.



What’s your experience in helping your children to Identify, Express and Manage their feelings? What do you do when your child throws a tantrum or being ‘naughty’? Leave your comments down below or go to Panda Mama Facebook Community to discuss.

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