How to help your child deal with big feelings (good or challenging ones!)

by Adina Levy

Feelings are hard, confusing, and we all experience them different. Your child might need some help navigating emotions… their own, others, and how to deal with big feelings (good or challenging ones!)

We need to move beyond simply labelling emotions with basic words

❌ “I’m happy”

❌ “You’re cranky”

We need to stop telling our kids their feelings are invalid

❌ “Cheer up!”

❌ “Don’t be upset”

We need to teach kids: 

🟢 All emotions are OK (not all responses to these emotions are, e.g. hitting others if you”re angry isn’t OK)

🟢Emotions are complicated. We can feel multiple emotions at one time. “I’m excited AND nervous!”

🟢We can feel emotions in different amounts. “I’m a little bit upset that you ate my cupcake without asking me”


What next? When your child understands more words and more nuance about emotions, they can start to understand things they can do to help themselves feel better. They’ll likely need your guidance at first. Just some ideas…

🍶 Sip of water

🐶 Cuddling a pet

🤗 Hug with a parent

🌬 Slow breaths

🌴 Walk outside in nature

🏃🏽‍♂️ Running around, or jumping it out on the trampoline



Question: What helps your child feel calmer, better or happier? What helps YOU feel calmer, better or happier?

I teach emotional awareness, self-regulation and a lot more in the Secret Agent Society online group program (for kids aged 8-12 around Australia).

I use a Neurodiversity Affirming approach to all I teach and share. Some kids brains work differently and each child is unique – their uniqueness is celebrated! I teach kids to be themselves, advocate for themselves, understand others’ emotions and thoughts, and support other people to understand children better.

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