According to Tracy Tippett (The Dance of Attachment) and Monica Cohu (Intentional Reparenting), it’s important to teach adopted kids, especially those who struggle with attachment, to recognize emotions. They may say, “I’m angry,” for example, when they are sad. They need practice and activities geared toward identifying what is going on in themselves and others. Monica suggests using non-traditional adjectives to name a feeling, asking the child, “What color is happy?” or "What does frustrated sound like?". Photographs, mobiles, magazine collages, and movie clips are all tools that can help you teach your child not only the obvious emotion, but also the underlying cause. “That boy is sad. He is crying because his dog ran away.” It’s important that we don’t assume that our child has picked this foundational skill up on her own, but spend time making sure that she is gaining the vocabulary and understanding of herself and also pick up on cues from others.
Recently, I found this great website, makebeliefscomix.com. It’s a fun activity, and although the purpose is not in teaching emotion, I decided to try it out with my kids. You choose a comic character (from twenty choices of people or animals) and then an emotion to go with it. You then add props and other characters, fill words into the bubbles and make a comic strip. Then you can email it or print it out. My son who is developmentally around four had trouble naming the emotions, so I used the opportunity to help him figure that out. My daughter who is about six developmentally had more of a challenge with the dialogue. All of my kids enjoyed making their own comic strip and I decided that it is another tool to use in my arsenal of helping tune in to emotions. Check it out.