Helping children manage emotions

As you know, growing up is challenging, Times are changing, there are multiple influencers to a child’s behaviour. Teaching them life skills is crucial, as the skills help them manage themselves better.
Educating about feelings is the first and essential steps to managing them well. When children manage feelings well, they act well. Teaching about feelings/emotions right in the formative years helps children be more in control of themselves and their behaviour.


How teach about feelings

How many times it has happened in our childhood or even now that you simply couldn’t name your feelings? All feelings have some purpose. We have positive (those that feel good) and negative feelings (those that don’t feel good). However, both these feelings can be further have helpful and unhelpful types.

List of Unhealthy and their corresponding healthy feelings

Unhealthy- Healthy
Unhealthy Anger- Healthy Anger
Depressed- Sad
Anxiety- Concern
Unhealthy Jealousy- Healthy Jealousy
Unhealthy envy- Healthy Envy
Guilt- Responsibility
Shame- Disappointment with self
Hurt- Disappointment with others
Grandiose- Proud
Overconfident- Confident
Careless- Careful

When the child comes back from the school, the parents could ask the child how they are feeling instead of how their day went.

Helpful ways to respond to intense feelings of the child:

  1. Try not to respond immediately when the child is very upset. They are likely to be least receptive then.
  2. Validate: Say you understand how the child got upset, and that it’s natural. However their inappropriate behaviour should not be endorsed at the same time. Validation does not mean endorsement.
  3. Ask what the child is upset about.
  4. Ask if they could have responded differently.
  5. Help them label the feelings by giving them choices. Eg. “Hey so you must have felt hurt, or did
    you feel angry?”
  6. Explore with them if getting intensely upset (though it is natural) helped them or will help them in
    the long run.
  7. Explore with them what level of upset ness was necessary and sufficient in the situation.
  8. Encourage to react differently next time a similar situation happens.
  9. Find teachable moments- Eg. Watching a movie/TV show, in real life where someone is very upset.
  10. 10.Try to keep these discussions short, do in a non-patronising way, and don’t make it look like alecture. Remember Teachable moments 


Dr. Shishir Palsapure  MD (Hom.), Msc (Psy)

Director:Morphicminds, an Affiliated Training Center of Albert Ellis Institute/CORE preventive emotional education


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