How To Help Your Kid Understand And Express Big Emotions

Watching your child deal with big emotions can be overwhelming and confusing for both you and them. It can be tough for kids to understand what they’re feeling, and even tougher to find the words or actions to express those emotions. As a parent, you can help your child learn to understand and express their big emotions in a healthy way. Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Acknowledge Your Child’s Emotions

The first step to helping your child deal with big emotions is to acknowledge how they’re feeling. Simply saying “I see you’re feeling sad/angry/frustrated/etc.” lets your child know that their emotions are valid and that you’re there for them. Listening to your child and acknowledging their feelings can make a big difference in helping them feel heard and understood.

2. Help Them Identify Their Emotions

Many children struggle to identify or differentiate their emotions. Helping your child put a name to what they’re feeling can lay the foundation for expressing and managing those emotions in a healthy way. There are many tools you can use to help your child identify their emotions, such as:

  • Emotion charts with pictures
  • Books about emotions
  • Playing “feelings bingo”
  • Mirror exercises where they make faces and identify how they feel

3. Encourage Expression

Once your child can identify their emotions, encourage them to express those feelings in a healthy way. This can mean:

  • Encouraging them to talk about what they’re feeling
  • Journaling or drawing
  • Dramatic play
  • Sensory play (like using playdough)

Encourage your child to express their emotions in a way that feels comfortable and natural for them. Some children may be more vocal, while others may prefer to express through physical activities.

4. Model Healthy Emotional Expression

Children learn by observing the behavior of those around them, so it’s important for parents to model healthy emotional expression. This means being open and honest about your own emotions and demonstrating how to calmly express them. When your child sees you expressing your emotions in a healthy way, they are more likely to follow suit.

5. Create a Calming Environment

Children may feel overwhelmed by their emotions, and it’s important to create a calming environment for them. This can mean:

  • Choosing activities that promote calmness (like reading or listening to music)
  • Making sure your child has a calming space (like a bedroom or quiet corner)
  • Engaging in relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation

Creating a safe and calming environment can help your child feel more in control of their emotions.

6. Reinforce Positive Behavior

When your child is expressing their emotions in a healthy way, make sure to reinforce that positive behavior. This can mean praising the way they expressed their emotions, giving them a hug or high five, or simply acknowledging their positive behavior. Reinforcing positive behavior can build your child’s confidence and encourage them to continue expressing their emotions in a healthy way.

7. Seek Professional Help When Needed

If your child is struggling to manage their emotions or express them in a healthy way, it may be helpful to seek the advice of a professional. A mental health professional can work with your child to develop strategies for managing emotions and expressing them in a healthy way. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you feel your child would benefit from it.


Helping your child understand and express their big emotions can be challenging, but it’s an important part of their emotional development. By acknowledging their emotions, helping them identify what they’re feeling, encouraging expression, modeling healthy emotional expression, creating a calming environment, reinforcing positive behavior, and seeking professional help when needed, you can help your child deal with big emotions in a healthy and positive way.


FAQ 1: Why is it important to help your kid understand and express big emotions?

It is important to help your kid understand and express big emotions because emotions play a significant role in a child’s development. When children are able to identify and express their emotions, it helps them regulate their behaviour and make healthy choices. On the other hand, when emotions are not properly understood and expressed, it can lead to negative outcomes such as anxiety, depression, and behavioural problems.

FAQ 2: What are some effective ways to help your kid understand and express big emotions?

There are many effective ways to help your kid understand and express big emotions. Some of these include: active listening, creating a safe space to share emotions, teaching children to label their emotions, encouraging mindfulness practices, and modelling healthy emotional expression yourself.

FAQ 3: At what age should you start helping your kid understand and express big emotions?

It is never too early to start helping your kid understand and express big emotions. Even infants can benefit from having caregivers who are attuned to their emotional needs. As children grow older, it is important to continue to support their emotional development by teaching them healthy coping strategies and helping them navigate difficult emotions.


1. Decker, K. M., & Deitz, J. (2017). Helping children understand and express emotions. OT Practice, 22(22), 12-17.
2. Denham, S. A., & Burton, R. (2003). Social and emotional prevention and intervention programming for preschoolers. Springer.
3. Grolnick, W. S., & Pomerantz, E. M. (2009). Issues and challenges in promoting children’s achievement motivation. US: Routledge.