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How to manage your child's emotions

Starting school and making new friends can lead to whole range of emotions in your child. Here are some simple tips on managing these new experiences?

Primary school can be an intense time for children. In the early days of school, children are learning new rules and routines, both at school and at home. Although it can be a confusing time, it can also be one of positive new beginnings as your child starts to make friends and learn new behaviours.

As a parent, you can help your child navigate these experiences, assisting them to go to school feeling calm, confident and ready to learn.

Naming your feelings

Talking about your feelings and naming them is a way for children to begin using vocabulary to express their emotions. Encouraging children to say, for example, ‘I feel sad today’, gives you a starting point for exploring the cause of the problem. You can encourage this language by using it yourself, for example naming your own emotions ‘I feel very happy today because…’, ‘I feel a bit sad today because…’.

Play games

Using games to explore feelings is a great way to teach children about emotions. Try games with picture cards – i.e. asking the child to name the correct feeling from facial expressions – is one example. Alternatively, you could get the whole family involved by taking pictures of them displaying different emotions.


When your child is feeling sad, angry or frustrated, have some activities planned to help them express themselves. For example, painting, playing in the sand, using playdough or encouraging them to dance to their favourite music.


Explore mindfulness techniques to quieten their busy minds. Teach them breathing techniques to use when they are angry or upset. You could also try joining a yoga for kids class in your area.

Learning together

Another option to consider is checking to see how you’re feeling as a parent. Children learn their behaviours primarily from looking to their parents as role models. Do you feel stressed and overwhelmed? It’s worth considering what messages your facial expression and body language are sending to your child.

As you consider some of the above techniques for your child, think about whether you could do them together, so you can both benefit.

If you are still concerned about your child’s stress levels after trying the above suggestions, remember that you’re not alone. An excellent place to start is talking with their teacher. There are also local services that can help, for example, CatholicCare’s Parenting Education includes an Emotion Coaching group program.

If you need more immediate help, our experts are just a phone call away with Parent Line NSW.


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The resources in our Parenting HUB are put together by our family specialists who work with families across Sydney every day.  If you would like to know more about this topic, please fill in our 'Contact Us' form and we'll get in touch.  You can also call our professional Parent Line NSW counsellors on 1300 1300 52 for individual advice.

Disclaimer: This article does not give professional advice.  The contents constitute general information of a summary nature of interest and relevance at the time of publication. You should not rely on the contents as professional advice but should seek, formal advice in particular matters relevant to your particular situation

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