Supporting Children's Emotions

Preschoolers are still developing the skills needed to express and work through strong emotions.

child and teacher looking at emotions chart

What You Need to Know

Feelings like anger, frustration, and sadness are a normal part of life. As we get older, we develop skills to regulate these emotions–in other words, we learn to bring our emotions back in check. Sometimes, adults misinterpret children’s emotional expressions as purposeful “acting out.” Instead, children are expressing their feelings the only way they know how. They need your help to manage their emotions so that they can get the most of their time in the classroom.

What It Looks Like

A quick glance at how you can help children handle strong emotions and provide support in the moment

Support with Strong Emotions

Label, acknowledge, and accept examples of strong emotions (frustration, anger, etc.) with children. This lets them know that, at times, everyone may feel this way, and that these feelings can be managed.

Talk About Emotions

Talk about all kinds of feelings (mad, happy, sad, etc.) to let children know that these feelings are normal. This supportive foundation helps children to be better prepared to handle strong emotions when they’re feeling them.

Use Calm Down Strategies

Practice calm-down techniques with children before they’re experiencing strong emotions. These can help them appropriately respond to the situation and manage their feelings when they’re happening in the moment.

STRATEGIES THAT WORK

Working Through Emotions

Young children are still beginning to understand, express, and regulate their emotions in appropriate ways. With these effective strategies, you can support children to build up their toolbox for handling big feelings and challenging situations.

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TRAUMA-INFORMED CARE

A Child's Perspective of Trauma

Responses to trauma look different at every stage of development. When children experience trauma at home, big unresolved feelings may find their way into the classroom. Learn how Sesame Street Communities is tackling this sensitive topic and what you can do to support these vulnerable learners. 

This video contains sensitive materials and is intended for adult use only.

COVID-19 ADAPTATIONS

Managing Strong Emotions

In this 20-minute webinar, educational coaches Stephanie Adams and Caitlin Powell talk about how we can support children’s strong emotions in virtual, hybrid, and physically distanced classroom environments.

FAMILY CONNECTIONS

Tools to Talk About Emotions

Young children deal with many of the same emotions that adults do. This handout from CSEFEL provides caregivers with simple strategies to help children express and manage those emotions.

CONSIDERING EQUITY

Using Social Stories

Useful for all but especially helpful for children with disabilities and dual language learners, this resource from the Head Start Center for Inclusion provides simple social stories to help children manage emotions and social situations.

BUILDING CONNECTIONS WITH BOOKS

Sometimes I'm Bombaloo

Written by Rachel Veil and illustrated by Yumi Heo, Sometimes I’m Bombaloo,  follows Katie as she experiences a variety of emotions from happy to “bombaloo” (very angry/upset) to calm and ready to play again. Strong emotions are a normal part of life. Stories like this create a space for labeling, accepting, and understanding that everyone feels strong emotions sometimes.

Activity Cards

Part of the STREAMin3 curriculum, activity cards provide simple ways you can help children practice calm-down strategies.
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breathe

Breathing Balloons

Breathing exercises help children calm down and become aware of their bodies.

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feel the beat

Steady Beat

Steady beat can be a great tool for building focus, attention, and emotion regulation.

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focus

Mindfulness Candle

This practice increases patience, feelings of calmness, and limits emotional reactivity.

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stretch it out

Yoga Calm Down

Moving through yoga poses is a technique for strengthening and calming bodies and minds.

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Get Our Resource Guide

Includes questions and activities to guide your use of the videos, book suggestions, and activity cards featured for each of our core social-emotional skills