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How to Help Kids Control Their Emotions

By Heather White ; Updated June 13, 2017

Throughout development, children experience a wide range of emotions. Difficulty can arise when a child is unable to demonstrate emotional control over his anger, frustration, fear, and sadness. A lack of emotional control often results in emotional outbursts, social withdrawal, aggression, anxiety and depression. Identify the emotion that your youngster is experiencing, as well as the trigger. Teaching healthy coping skills will help your child regulate and control his emotions more effectively.

  1. Assist your child in identifying and recognizing different emotions. Accomplish this by showing your child pictures of different facial expressions and asking him to identify the corresponding emotion. Each emotion has distinct facial characteristics. For example, an angry face has lowered eyebrows that cause forehead wrinkles, and lips that are thin and tensed. Recognizing emotions will build your child’s emotional intelligence and enable him to express how he is feeling.

  2. Uncover what triggers your child’s emotional reactions. Triggers are experiences that lead to certain emotions, thoughts and behaviors. Common triggers for frustration include transitions or change in routine, conflict with friends or family, and expectations or pressure that are placed on the child. Determine whether your child’s emotional difficulty occurs in a particular environment, such as school or home. Increasing the child’s awareness of what causes his emotions will prepare him to handle these situations more effectively.

  3. Support your child in developing healthy coping skills that can help him calm down. When a child is in a heightened emotional state, redirect him to take a break and cool off by listening to music, drawing or going for a walk. Have the child plan activities he can engage in when he feels overwhelmed by his emotions. Teach the child additional relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing and muscle relaxation.

  4. Commend your child for controlling his emotional reactions. Positive praise recognizes your child’s improvements and helps build self-esteem. Use small rewards to reinforce your child’s progress.

  5. Provide your child with a supportive home environment that continues to encourage and reinforce his emotional skills. As a parent, it is important to increase your knowledge and understanding of childhood emotions by reading relevant child development books and articles. Attend a local parent support group for parenting advice and the opportunity to share experiences.

  6. Tip

    If your child’s emotional and behavioral symptoms impair his daily functioning, seek a psychological assessment for your youngster. Speak with your local mental health agency or your child’s school psychologist for further guidance and referral information.

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