Feelings & Wellbeing at School: Strategies to Manage Feelings 2021

How do you teach students to use strategies to manage their feelings, you ask? Try out some of Guide to Life’s activities and tips in your classroom.

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Strategies to Manage Feelings

Emotions are not consciously controlled. The part of the brain that deals with emotions are the limbic system. It is thought that this part of the brain is evolved fairly early on in human history, making it quite primitive. This explains why an emotional response is often quite straightforward, but very powerful; you want to cry, or run away, or shout.  

It is because these responses are based around the need to survive. 

Emotions are strongly linked to memory and experience. If something bad has previously happened to your pupils, their emotional response to the same stimulus is likely to be strong.  

Babies feel emotions, but can’t necessarily reason. Emotions are also, closely linked to values: an emotional response could tell you one of your pupil’s key values has been challenged.  

Understanding this link to memory and values gives your pupils the key to managing their emotions. Their emotional responses don’t necessarily have much to with the current situation, or to reason, but pupils can overcome these emotions with reason and by being aware of their reactions.  

The ability to express and experience emotions is more important than your pupils might realise.  

As the felt response to a given situation, emotions play a key part in your pupil’s reactions. When your pupils are in tune with their emotions, they have access to important knowledge that helps with: 

  • Decision-Making 
  • Relationship Success 
  • Day-to-Day Interactions 
  • Self-Care 

While emotions can have a helpful role in your pupil’s daily life, they can take a toll on their emotional health and interpersonal relationships when emotions start to get out of control. 

“Any emotion – even elation, joy or others you’d typically view as positive – can intensify to a point where it becomes difficult to control.” Vicki Botnick 

With a little practice, your students can take back the reigns. According to two studies conducted in 2010, suggest that having good emotional regulation skills is linked to wellbeing. 

Teach your Pupils about Emotions


It’s important for your pupils to recognise and define how they are feeling. Start by teaching them about emotions, so they can learn that things may seem amorphous or overwhelming actually have a name.  

Strike up conversations with your class about feelings by talking about characters, in books or TV Shows. Every once in a while, ask a question such as “How do you think the character feels?” With practice, your pupil’s ability to label their emotions will improve.  

  • Emotional awareness can help children be mentally strong, even when they feel emotions deeply. 

Separate Feelings Vs Behaviours

It is also important for pupils to learn how to express their emotions in a socially appropriate manner. Screaming loudly in the middle of assembly or throwing a temper tantrum in the classroom is not okay. 

  • Tell your pupils that they can feel any emotion they want- and it is okay to feel angry or scared. But, make it clear that they have choices in how they respond to those uncomfortable feelings.  

While they have every right to be mad at someone, for example that does not give them permission to hit them. Likewise, they can feel upset that playtime is over but it doesn’t make it okay to roll around on the floor crying and disrupting others.  

Teach Emotion Regulation

When it comes to emotion regulation, the ability to regulate big emotions is largely dependent on your pupils age and development. By the time children start nursery many of them have the skills needed to begin learning how to regulate their emotions… 

Practice Deep Breathing

Teach your pupils how to breathe in slowly and quietly through their nose and then out through their mouth (Try telling them to smell a flower, then blow up a balloon to master this.) You can help t them to do this when your pupils are in an upset moment, but encourage them to employ this on their own when needed, to promote independency.  

Calm “Count-Down”

Teach your pupils to distract themselves from upsetting thought by counting. Counting ceiling tiles, counting to 10 or counting down from 100 are just a few mental tasks that might reduce their distress 

Take a Break

Allow your pupils to give themselves a brief time-out by making sure that if they need to step out of the classroom for a sip of water or a minute of privacy when they need to collect themselves. Make it clear to your pupils that they can do this before they potentially get sent there for misbehaviour.

Then, they’ll be in control of deciding when they’re ready to come out.  

Calm-Down Kit

An exercise that can be made into homework or a special activity that can help your pupils calm down or cheer up. Colouring books and crayons, scratch-and-sniff stickers, pictures that remind pupils of something they love or enjoy and soothing music are just a few things that can engage the senses and help them manage their emotions.  

mental health awareness


If your pupils emotions are causing problems for them- maybe no one wants to play with them because, they cry all the time, or they’re unable to participate in physical education because they get angry if they lose – work together to address the problem.

  • Ask them for their input on what strategies might help.
  • They may develop some creative solutions with your support.  

Identify Mood Boosters

Talk to your pupils about the things they like to do when they feel happy, like playing outside, reading a book, or singing their favourite songs. Have them write those things down and tell them those are their “Mood Boosters”. When they’re feeling bad, encourage them to engage in one of these to help them cope with their feelings.  

BONUS: Set some time aside (Quiet Time/Circle Time) for your class to really engage with their mood booster activities at the start or end of the day. 

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