Understanding emotions and behaviours

Across a day, a week, or a month we often experience a vast range of different emotions. Our children are the same. It’s normal to experience a variety of feelings as we encounter different situations in life. Try not to think of certain emotions as being ‘bad’ or ‘negative’ as all emotions are valid. It’s important to learn to recognise and manage our emotions as they are often strongly linked with how we act. If you feel your child is struggling to make sense of their feelings, there are a few things you can try.

Talk to your child and encourage them to explore their response. The exercise below can be used during an intense emotional response:

  • Notice the emotion – notice how you feel
  • Name the emotion – what is it? What word best describes it?
  • Accept the emotion – it’s a normal reaction, what prompted it? Don’t judge or condone, just let it be for now
  • Investigate the emotion – how intense is it? How are you breathing? What are you feeling physically?
  • Allow and release the emotion – notice and allow your thoughts, release struggles with the thought and take deep breaths

Emotions and behaviours are vastly impacted by what we see online and by those around us. This area of resilience considers how your child should be learning to take responsibility for their actions as well. Helping them to understand the relationship between what they think and feel and ultimately how they act.

Many a parent will have uttered the words “Life isn’t fair” when a child has said “It’s not fair.”

What if we explored it a little deeper with them in that moment. What is it about the situation or scenario that felt ‘unfair’. Continuing this conversation will help you to understand your child’s values and perspective.

Once you have listened you will be in a better position to prepare them to respond in ways that will help them grow emotionally and not set them back. It’s normal to feel anxious or worry at certain times in life. But it’s important for children and young people to know how to manage these worries. This means expressing themselves without harming themselves, others, or property.

We want young people to feel positive about the future and optimistic that change to responses comes with age and maturity. If your child is struggling to do this you can encourage them to talk about it with yourselves or another trusted adult. You can also encourage them to explore the information and links on this site too.

Visit the Childline website for more advice.