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Emotions and kids

What is an emotion

An emotion is a physiological state within your body. You experience this feeling in your physical body and react to this. It is in fact subconsciously caused by your thoughts and beliefs, around events. These emotions can be positive or negative.

Why do we need emotions

Emotions help you to take action, avoid danger and instinctively protect yourself. They are behind your decisions. When you understand emotions you begin to understand your behaviour and that of others. Even when you believe you are making a decision rationally, your emotions are behind it. By knowing how you will react, you adapt your behaviour accordingly. Emotions can be good but they can also lead you astray if you haven't learnt to control them.

How can you manage emotions

You need to help your child to understand and manage their emotions.

You may not always be in control of them - sometimes they control you. When you have learnt how to stay on top of them you can teach your children how to do the same. There are long term benefits for achieving this.

Emotions can be scary for kids. They can rise up out of nowhere and a behaviour follows. Your role is to help your child to recognise emotions and learn how to handle them. This will help them feel more in control and reduce outbursts.

When you are emotional, the rational side of the brain is not in charge. This means that reason and logic don't work.

First, therefore you need to help your child learn to calm down. This may take time. Especially at first. Once calm, praise them for managing to calm down. This can be a real challenge and they need to be congratulated for achieving this. This also gives them positive attention.

Next you can help them to label the feeling that they had. When it happens again in the future you will easily be able to refer back to this label.

Acknowledge the emotions - they are real and valid for your child. Listen to them so they can learn to express themselves.

Now discuss ways they can deal with and manage this emotion in the future. Give them a chance to talk about options. This way it will be options that work for them, not you. If you can - have two options or strategies that can be employed in the future.

Often when your emotions get on top of you it is helpful to check expectations.

Check with your child for a mismatch.

To help prevent emotional outbursts you can plan ahead and problem solve after. By preparing and reviewing you will be more in control.


Emotions are important to you and your child. You need to help your child to understand and manage their emotions. You can do this by helping them calm down, label the emotion and propose options for dealing with similar future situations. This will lead to long term benefits for them.

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