5 Things I Want Kids to Know About Their Feelings

As counselors, we talk about feelings. A lot. Like all of the time. But not all of our students share our same ideas and impressions about feelings. Some may have heard or inferred that feelings aren’t okay or that they should be kept to themselves. Others may think they are equal to their feelings. When working with students to practice identifying and understanding feelings, there are 5 things I want them to know. Keep reading to find what I teach kids about feelings and why I think it’s important!

Teach Kids About Feelings

1. Our Bodies Give Us Clues

Many students simply don’t understand the physiological experience of their emotions (and that can be scary!). I always want to teach my students to recognize how emotions feel in their bodies. Sometimes students can’t name their emotion, so I simply say, “Tell me what you notice in your body right now.” Describing a pounding heart or a fluttering stomach helps them to make a connection between their bodies and their emotions. This is particularly helpful in worry group as we talk about recognizing signs of worry.

A great book to help students understand this concept is My Incredible Talking Body by Becca Bowen. This book does an amazing job of illustrating how tuning in to our bodies can help us understand our feelings (a concept that is totally brand new for most students).

2. Our Feelings Are Connected to Our Actions & Thoughts

Our thoughts affect our emotions. Our emotions affect our behavior. And our behavior affects our thoughts. Round and round we go! I work with students to make connections between thoughts they have, the emotions that accompany those thoughts, and the behaviors they take afterward. When they can see these connections, we can make a plan to interrupt negative loops by interrupting thoughts and using coping skills to change feelings.

When you teach kids about feelings, what do you want them to know? See the 5 big points I make to help kids understand their feelings!

3. All Feelings Are Okay

There are no “bad feelings” and every single one is okay! Angry? That’s fine. Frustrated? Totally okay. Confused? That’s okay too. Many times students think that certain feelings aren’t okay to have much less say, and I always want to make sure students know that when they are in the counseling room with me, all feelings are okay to have and express.

The second thing we work on here is what to do with those feelings. Yes, it’s okay to be angry, but it’s not okay to hurt someone because we’re angry. We talk about expressing feelings in safe and appropriate ways and using calming strategies to manage those big emotions. This is a great time to introduce calm corners or break spots that students can use in the classroom, counseling office, or even at home.

4. Feelings Are Not Forever

Sometimes, feelings feel like they might never go away and kids have a hard time seeing past the moment. We talk about times when they had strong emotions in the past, how long they lasted, and what helped them to feel better. This kick starts a conversation for planning to use coping skills in the present. While we do talk about how the emotions won’t last forever, I also want kids to know it’s okay to just sit with emotions for a bit. We don’t have to brush them away, but we can remember they won’t last forever.

5. We Are Not Defined by Emotions

Just like feelings don’t last forever, feelings don’t define us. Feelings aren’t character traits that are stuck with us forever. I want students to be able to think, “I’m not an angry kid. I am a kid who feels angry sometimes.”

What else do you teach kids about their emotions? I want kids to recognize what their bodies are telling them and be in tune with the ways their emotions are connected to their thoughts and choices. I want them to know that all of their feelings are okay, won’t last forever, and don’t define them!

activities to help kids understand their emotions and develop emotional awareness and vocabulary
When you teach kids about feelings, what do you want them to know? See the 5 big points I make to help kids understand their feelings! School counseling feelings activities to help kids build emotional understanding and emotional vocabulary -Counselor Keri

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