Emotions and Behaviour:

How to help children to express how they are feeling


‘Behaviour is a child’s way of communicating that something is wrong but they don’t always know how to express it.’

Parent & Teaching Assistant


Behaviour came up as the most important issue that parents wanted support with particularly around bedtimes, mealtimes and changes in routine. If a child is showing difficult behaviour it’s usually because they are experiencing strong emotions or feelings about something. Feelings are normal it’s what we do with them that matters!




When children get upset about something, the way they behave can quickly escalate depending on how the adults around them respond. So this can be an ideal opportunity for parents to help them think about what they are feeling. By giving children the chance to talk about emotions such as anger, fear and anxiety means they are less likely to project them through challenging behaviour. If children are regularly given the chance to explore emotions they are more likely to learn how to calm themselves in the future.


There are fun ways to explore emotions like:

  • Making or drawing faces with different emotions and naming them
  • Watching and talking about films that explore emotions like Disney's Inside Out 
  • When your child gets upset try to help them name what they are feeling. If they struggle with this, you could name it for them; 'I think you are feeling angry about...' Try this with smaller emotions first.
  • Try using these Emotion Coaching steps to help you work through an emotional moment with your child:Emotion Coaching Steps - CARE.pdf