Helping children manage stressful feelings

Everyone has stress. No matter what age, stress is a part of everyday life. Some stress one can control and others one cannot. Stress can have an effect on every area of your life. If you have stress at home it can effect relationships or school or work performance. Stress can also affect your health. Adults and children experience stress differently.

Children experience and express stress differently than adults. Children can experience stress over small things like not being able to find a toy to large stresses regarding family. Children have difficulty identifying exactly what they are feeling and the reason they are experiencing the feeling. Children often express feelings of stress by being or acting angry, aggressive, oppositional or tearful. Helping children understand and manage stress is necessary to their development.


Obtaining a feeling chart is helpful. The feeling chart has smiley faces and other faces of emotions with their words to help a child identify his/her feelings. This may sound easy, but most people use the following feelings: angry, sad and happy. There are many other feelings such as disappointment, fear, excited, embarrassed, shame, silly, etc. Use this chart daily to help the child to identify feelings, both good and bad.


When the child is upset, help him to verbalize what he feels. Help him to choose the best way to cope. Give the child two options on what to do to resolve the situation. Most people want to feel they have a choice or power. Children feel this as well. Giving them a choice helps them to feel in control and also helps them to make the right decision.

Stress ball 

Another way to help children deal with stress is to give them alternative activities when upset. One great item to have for a child to use is a stress ball. Stress balls are a great way to relieve tension. Stress balls relieve stress by exerting pressure on a ball. Stress balls are convenient (can go anywhere) and effective. Making stress balls is an inexpensive, easy and fun activity.

Lastly, remember a child usually plays out his feelings. Use of dolls, puppets, crayons, paint, cars and other toys can help a child express her feelings. Make these items accessible to the child. Playing or engaging in an activity may allow the child to express what she is feeling, thus relieving stress or tension. You can choose to join the child or let her play alone. The purpose is giving a safe way to relieve stress.