Everyone experiences strong emotions at certain times. The ability to regulate strong emotions and return to a more balanced state of mind is an important developmental process we work on throughout our life. Although we may practice behaviors or actions that can help this process, much of this takes place in our mind.

Learning foundational skills early in life helps kids learn there are strategies we can use to keep our emotions from taking over or becoming intrusive. The best time to learn self-regulation is not in the middle of a difficult time. These skills are best learned when in a relatively calm state of mind so they can be used when needed.

Enact Empowerment!

These activities will help you teach children how to better regulate their strong emotions.


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1. Deep breathing (all ages):  

Tried and true, teaching children to engage in deep breathing exercises is one of the most straightforward and effective coping skills their can learn. It helps calm their thoughts and allows them time to engage in other helpful thinking, like using skills 1-4 of Emotional Empowerment. This is also a great activity to do together before bedtime to help with relaxation.

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2. Writing Prompt (grades 3-8):

Have children write a plan for how to respond in certain situations or with certain emotions. They then can practice it in their mind, which increases the chances they will use a positive coping strategy when the time comes.

3. A lesson in history (all ages):

Sometimes the best teaching tool is a real-life experience. As adults, we can remember times during childhood when we responded well to a difficult situation, or not so well and we wish for a do-over. Now that the children you are practicing with have learned all the steps to be emotionally empowered, talk them through a situation in your life and have them put their skills to work.

4. Movement or exercise (all ages)

Sometimes, what our body and mind need to be in better balance is exercise. Have kids take a walk, ride a bike or follow a short exercise video online. 

5. Watch: Melting GoNoodle Video (elementary school)


Watch on GoNoodle

This GoNoodle video helps children practice allowing their negative feelings to melt away through a guided mindfulness activity.

The On Our Sleeves Go Noodle channel, All the Feels, includes social-emotional learning videos for elementary-aged students. Learn more.

6. Music (all ages)

Music has a powerful effect on our moods and emotions. Have a playlist or artist who plays music that both energizes and calms your child. When needed, have them listen to the right kind of music to move their mood toward a more balanced state. If they are too energetic, play relaxing music. If they are feeling low, play something they can dance to.

On Our Sleeves Mental Health Resource

Download all of Step 5: Regulating Strong Emotions Emotional Empowerment Activities.
Get PDF copies of On Our Sleeves' Deep Breathing activity and Writing Prompts.