How do I help my son cope with big emotions?

As a parent of a 9 year old, I find it challenging at times to help my son manage his emotions. Although he is young, he is experiencing grownup feelings he does not understand. As the world around him expands, how do I help him cope with these big emotions and teach him how to express them in appropriate ways?

It is important for parents to be observant of their child’s emotions and be able to communicate calmly and clearly when describing their behaviour to them. Having the ability to notice the changes and respond to them means you are on the right track!

You can help your child understand all the different kinds of emotions he feels by labeling and talking about different kinds of behaviors and facial expressions associated with different emotions. In addition, when he is expressing different emotions, talk about why he is feeling this way and exhibiting certain behaviors.

Children also need to know how to read the emotions and body language of others. By doing so, your child can recognize how others are feeling and get a better understanding on how to interact with them.

You can also help your child identify different coping strategies that he can utilize to gain control. Some coping strategies could include listening to music, colouring or drawing, going to a quiet area, squeezing a stress ball or stuffed animal, blowing bubbles, drinking a glass of cold water and more.

Role playing may also help him be prepared to deal with upsetting situations. However, encourage him to describe what he would do in those situations before offering him help and guidance.

Children learn a lot from others and are very quick to pick up and mimic behaviors – either positive or negative – that they have seen exhibited by others. Be a good role model and practice what you teach.

– Minoush Rafie, Coordinator – West Central Community Resource Centre

Do you have parenting questions for our staff?  Send them to and it may be featured in our next newsletter!