Counselor's Corner: Practicing Empathy

Feeling Charades

There's a reason counselors are stereotyped as asking, "How do you feel about that?" - because identifying and understanding feelings is a key component of empathy. And empathy is at the foundation of the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (Matthew 7:12).

Identifying emotions - in ourselves as well as in others - is a learned skill. Some kids pick it up faster than others (much like the multiplication tables), but everyone benefits from practice.

Feelings Charades offers a fun way to practice the skill of emotional identification and understanding.

For two or more players.

Goal: To act out an emotion so that others can guess the emotion and respond appropriately.

How to Play: One player chooses an emotion (you can paste emoticons to index cards or simply write feelings words - happy, mad, sad, scared, tired, guilty, shy, etc. - onto strips of paper.) That player thinks about what might make him/her feel that way and then acts out the emotion without words.

Other players attempt to name the emotion. The person who correctly identifies the emotion (I.e. “Are you sad?”) gets to go next.

Advanced Level: The person who correctly guesses the emotion follows up with an empathetic response (“Are you sad? Would you like to talk about it?”).

Super Advanced Level: In addition to acting out the emotion, the player also acts out what he might do to change that emotion (i.e. change from mad to calm by taking a deep breath).

Kristi Thompson, MS, LPCC
Elementary Guidance Counselor
Christian Academy School System

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15)