7 Tips to Help Kids Identify and Manage their Emotions

We all have big feelings and it seems like right now we are experiencing them more than ever.  For kids these emotions can feel overwhelming and without the skills to identify and manage them they can lead to negative experiences.  The following are some tips to help your child with these big feelings.  

  1. Identify and name your feelings. Explore the different words for feelings with your child.  What does this feeling look like?  Feel like?  When have you felt this way? 
  2. Teach kids that all feelings are ok and they are a part of who we are.  There are no “bad” feelings.
  3. Use a volcano analogy to help a child monitor how close they are to “blowing” or being overwhelmed by their feelings.  If you notice your child is getting frustrated or upset ask them how close to the top of the volcano they are.  Drawing a picture of a volcano can help a child visualize this. When they are feeling like they are about half-way to the top, encourage them to try an activity that helps them to feel calm.
  4. Brainstorm ideas of good things to do when experiencing big feelings.  Discuss why some things we do aren’t helpful (ie they might hurt ourselves or other people’s bodies or feelings).  Things like playing outside, talking to someone you love, drawing a picture to share your feelings, having alone time, listening to music and taking deep breaths are all great ways to help deal with big feelings.
  5. Work on empathy.  Read a book or watch a show and ask your child what the character might be feeling and why they think so.  Share ideas about what you could do to help someone when they are having big feelings.
  6. Focus on our breath. Start by paying attention to your breath, slowing it down and breathing deeply.  A simple breathing activity for a child might be to lay down and place a stuffed animal on their belly.  Watch as it moves up and down with each breath. This is a great tool to help us calm emotions and gives time and space to choose how we want to react. 
  7. Support and listen to your child when they are feeling big emotions. Sometimes we all just need to be heard! Praise your child when they label their emotions and express them in positive ways.    

I hope that these ideas help your child find some peace when dealing with their big emotions!

Sarah Peterson

Elementary School Teacher

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