Learning through play is an essential part of a child’s development.
Children’s development relies on the ability to explore and discover both themselves and the world around them. Toys help to facilitate this, allowing children to release stress and use their creativity while developing their emotional skills and social skills.
Playing with toys provides opportunities for children to learn and practice different cognitive abilities, such as problem solving, communication, and self-expression.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its various challenges, there has been a rise in demand for toys that help children make sense of their emotions. Toys that soothe, comfort, and contribute to child emotional development are important, now more than ever.
Below are our top 5 emotional development toys. These toys should help your children understand and express how they are feeling, while providing comfort and relieving stress at the same time.
1. Big Feelings Pineapple
A modern take on Mr Potato Head, the Big Feelings Pineapple from Learning Resources comes with 26 different facial pieces to build with, all stored within the pineapple head.
Whether sporting an excited grin or a worried frown, the Big Feelings Pineapple provides young children and non-verbal children with the opportunity to explore the nuances of emotional expressions. Each new expression allows children to identify and discuss how emotions look on themselves and other people.
Reviews for this toy praise its ‘many options for different faces’ and its ability to easily ‘create your own thought provoking activities.’
2. PAWZ The Calming Pup
Doubling as both a toy and night-light, PAWZ The Calming Pup from Hand2Mind is an interactive companion for children aimed at teaching them mindfulness.
By squeezing PAWZ’s foot, children can follow 3 different breathing exercises, inhaling as PAWZ gets brighter, and exhaling as his light dims. Mindful breathing encourages children to be fully present in the moment, releasing stress and anxiety. These moments of stillness also encourage children to consider their thoughts and feelings in more detail.
PAWZ also conveniently doubles as a night light, with timer settings of 5, 15 or 30 minutes.
3. SnuggleBuddies Emotions Plush
Children love plushie toys, and fluffy companions can often be a great source of comfort for them. From Generation Mindful, the SnuggleBuddies Emotions Plush is a brilliant toy for helping children to identify and communicate their feelings.
Inside their huggable exteriors are four different colour coded emojis that represent a different set of feelings, from happy, sad, calm to mad/scared. Aimed at helping reduce tantrums, whining and meltdowns in young children, the SnuggleBuddies plush toy is purpose built to help kids practice noticing, naming, and regulating their emotions.
SnuggleBuddies plushies also come with a Feelings Journal laminated poster and a illustrated sing-a-long video.
4. See My Feelings Mirror
Although seemingly simple, the See My Feelings Mirror is a great, accessible toy that helps young children identify with their own emotional expressions. The mirrors come in bright colours, and are made from child-friendly glass, so they are durable and safe.
They come with six slide-in photos of real children expressing real emotions, such as happiness, surprise, fear, sadness, silliness, and anger. These emotions are paired with emoji symbols for easy understanding. The mirrors also include a Getting Started activity book with varies activities inside, to help children explore these emotions further.
One review for the mirrors praised them for working ‘on many levels’, stating that they used the mirrors to ask their child introspective questions like ‘show me your sad face, what does this face tell you?’.
5. Fidget Pops
Fidget Pop toys come in a variety of shapes and sizes, the toys growing in popularity after being featured across various social media platforms.
Centred on sensory play, Fidget Pop toys are comprised of a silicone pad, filled with reusable bubbles that pop when pressed. Like popping bubble wrap, Fidget Pops are renowned for their ability to relieve stress and anxiety.
The toys work well as self-regulation tools, increasing focus and helping children learn how to self-soothe when faced with difficult emotions.
These toys should aid your children in making sense of their feelings, developing their understanding of different emotions and contributing to their overall social emotional learning.
If you liked this guide, why not check out more of our resource guides on children’s wellbeing and education:
• 6 Books to Help You Talk to Your Kids About Gender Identity
• Mindfulness Exercises for Teenagers and Children
• 8 Great Ways for Keeping Children Active
• 9 Books to Help You Talk to Your Kids About Racism
• Five Easy Crafts to Keep Children Entertained This Winter
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