How to Help Kids Manage Those BIG Feelings


This post was reprinted with permission from Janine Halloran/Coping for Kids, a June sponsor of the Lose the Cape! podcast. 

Early in my career, I realized the importance of making sure my clients have healthy coping skills. Whenever I work with someone, my goal is to make sure they end up with a variety of healthy coping skills they can use every day.

As a parent, I’ve also learned first-hand about how to teach coping skills as I’ve been raising my own children. My son is slow to warm up in new situations and with new people and sometimes has a hard time managing his BIG feelings.

Who could use coping skills?

The tired preschool boy, just home from a busy day at school.

He’s a little sleepy and a little hungry. He asked to play with blocks when he got home and you helped him get them out. Suddenly, he growls “argh!!!!” and a block tower goes crumbling to the ground. “It’s not working!!” he says with tears in his eyes and frustration in his voice. Suddenly, a block bangs off the wall – thrown by your frustrated little guy.

The 8 year old girl, anxious about her science test.

She thinks she’s going to fail, and she worries that you will be disappointed in her and she’ll lose her privileges of playing with friends and screen time. She studies and studies, but as soon as the test is in front of her, her mind goes blank. Her palms sweat and her cheeks flush. “Why can’t I remember?!” she thinks to herself.

The 10 year old boy, whose parents are getting a divorce.

Why did it have to change? he wonders. “I hate changing houses. I always forget something!” He misses how it used to be. “What will happen to me?” His parents keep asking him to talk, but he doesn’t want to.

The 7 year old girl, worried about her sick grandma.

In the middle of her math lesson, her mind wanders to her grandma. She went to visit her this past weekend. She’s concerned about her grandma’s surgery. “I hope the surgery goes okay. I wonder when grandma will be home?”

Benefits of Coping Skills

Everyone needs to be able to cope with life’s emotions and stresses in healthy ways. Childhood is a wonderful time to learn to cope with and manage life’s ups and downs. If children have good coping skills, they will:

  • get along better with others
  • more easily make connections to others
  • be able to start and maintain friendships
  • be able to pay attention in school and learn
  • manage better when more challenging experiences occur
  • be more resilient as an adult

Remember those kids from earlier? Let’s identify some ways we can help them.

The tired preschooler

Speak with him in a calm and gentle voice. “You seem frustrated. Do you want to jump on your trampoline for a few minutes while I get your snack ready? Then I can help you build your tower.”

The 8 year old girl, anxious about her test.

Reassure her that you will always love her, no matter what kind of grade she gets. Talk with her and have her imagine a calm place. Talk about all the details, what she sees, what she hears, what she feels and what she smells. Then have her imagine it for a few minutes while taking deep breaths. Explain to her that she can call up that calming place whenever she feels stressed, like during a test, to help get her to a calmer place.

The 10 year old whose parents are divorcing.

Offer him a journal where he can write his thoughts, his questions, his feelings and his frustrations. It will help him think and process more of what is happening. And you can tell him that any time he wants to talk, you’re here to listen

The 7 year old who is worried about grandma

Sometimes, it helps to do something to take your mind off tough situations, especially when there is really nothing to do but wait and see. Talk with her about doing something kind. Maybe she could make her grandma a craft or a special treat. It can keep her busy and occupied as she’s waiting for news about her grandma.

With coping skills, children can learn to manage difficult emotions and gain resilience. This will serve them well as they continue and grow and face more difficult challenges.

What coping skills do your children use? Let us know in the comments! 


Coping Skills for Kids is a June sponsor of the Lose The Cape! podcast. 

Coping Skills for Kids has both digital products and physical products available. Janine Halloran is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with over 15 years of experience working with children and adolescents. She’s also a mom of 2. She has created and curated these products because of their effectiveness in helping both her clients and her own children manage big feelings like anxiety, anger and stress.

Get $5 off with the code “cape” HERE.

About Janine:

Janine Halloran is the Founder and CEO of Coping Skills for Kids where she provides products for parents to help their kids cope with stress, anxiety and anger in healthy ways. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and has been working with children, adolescents and their families for over 15 years. She is also a mom to two elementary school aged children.

Janine is an NBC Parent Toolkit Expert. She has written for Confident Parents Confident Kids, Hey Sigmund and Bay State Parent Magazine. She has also been interviewed by the Boston Globe and on the We Turned Out Okay podcast. Janine lives with her husband and their two children. When Janine isn’t working, you can find her in her garden or crocheting. Visit the website to learn more.