Effective Emotional Regulation Activities for Children

A young girl sitting outside on the ground, meditating with headphones on and eyes closed, practicing emotional regulation activities for children.

Sarah’s mom noticed her 8-year-old daughter struggling to manage her emotions. Whenever she was upset, it was like a storm, with tears and shouting that lasted long after the issue was over.

Knowing that summer break could be challenging, her mom searched online for ways to help Sarah.

Excited by the possibility of helping her daughter, Sarah’s mom began to introduce some of these emotional regulation activities for children.

To her amazement, Sarah not only enjoyed them but also began to show signs of better emotional control. She started to recognize when she was getting upset and used techniques from the activities to calm down.

Emotional regulation is crucial for children, especially those with special needs. For many children with learning disabilities or mental disorders, controlling emotions can be one of the most challenging aspects of daily functioning. 

It involves recognizing, understanding, and managing emotions in a healthy way. For children like Sarah it helps them navigate social interactions, build resilience, and handle the ups and downs of everyday life more effectively.

The Importance of Emotional Regulation for Kids

Emotional regulation is crucial to a child’s development and overall well-being. It is the ability to recognize and control one’s emotions, and it is particularly important for children with special needs.

By mastering emotional control, children learn to respond appropriately to different situations and build healthy relationships.

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Emotional regulation activities for kids can help them develop these essential skills. They enable children to navigate challenges associated with their disabilities, such as autism or ADHD. Children can improve their social functioning and overall quality of life by learning how to regulate their emotions effectively.

By teaching children emotional self-regulation at a young age, we equip them with the tools they need to cope with emotions in a healthy way. These skills enable young children to manage stress and anxiety, enhance social interactions, and develop resilience. Emotional regulation sets the foundation for a happier and more successful future for children.

Understanding Emotional Regulation

Emotion regulation is a crucial skill that allows you to to recognize and manage their emotions effectively. Developing these skills is particularly important for children as they navigate the challenges of growing up. By understanding it, children can learn how to identify, express, and regulate their emotions in a healthy way.

Various emotional learning techniques and activities can help your child develop their emotional self-regulation skills. These techniques include:

  • Identifying Emotions: Helping kids recognize and label different emotions, such as happiness, sadness, anger, and fear.
  • Self-Awareness: Encouraging children to be mindful of their own emotional state and understand how it affects their thoughts, behaviors, and interactions.
  • Self-Soothing: Teaching children strategies to calm themselves when experiencing intense emotions, such as deep breathing exercises or engaging in activities they enjoy.

By equipping children with these techniques and fostering an environment that supports them, we can help kids develop the necessary skills to navigate their emotional reactions and build healthy relationships.

Benefits of Emotion Regulation in Children

Understanding and practicing emotion regulation strategies offer many benefits to help your child develop skills, such as:

  • Improve their overall well-being and mental health
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Enhance their social skills and relationships
  • Develop effective coping mechanisms for dealing with stress and adversity
  • Improve focus and attention, leading to better academic performance
  • Enhance problem-solving and decision-making skills
  • Improved resilience in the face of challenges and setbacks, allowing them to bounce back and adapt more quickly.

When we teach kids emotion regulation skills early on, we set them up for a more balanced and fulfilling life. 

Fun Games for Improving Emotional Regulation

Engaging in fun and interactive activities can be an excellent way for children to practice and improve their emotional regulation skills. Here are some fun games that can help your child enhance their emotional regulation abilities:

– Emotions and Feelings Board Games

Kids love playing board games! So why not use them to help kids manage their emotions? Chick out this collection of social emotional games for kids on Amazon.

These games provide a playful and enjoyable way for children to learn about different emotions, recognize their emotional state, and develop strategies to regulate their reactions. The games also promote self-awareness, empathy, and effective emotional regulation.

– Emotions Twister

Emotions Twister is a fun twist on the classic game incorporating emotions and body movements. Each colored spot on the Twister mat is associated with a specific emotion on the printable PDF spinner board. 

Players are required to match their body movements to the corresponding emotions. 

This game helps kids practice recognizing emotions in themselves and others while improving their balance and coordination.

– Freeze Dance

Freeze Dance is a fun game that allows children to express their emotions through movement and music. 

As the music plays, children dance freely, expressing different emotions through their body language and facial expressions. 

When the music stops, the children freeze. This game encourages emotional exploration, self-expression, and self-regulation.

By incorporating these games into children’s daily routines, you can create a supportive environment for them to develop and improve their emotional regulation skills. 


Mindfulness Activities for Emotional Regulation

Mindfulness activities can play a significant role in helping children develop emotional regulation skills. 

These activities help children become more aware of their emotions and teach them how to respond to their feelings calmly. Children can learn to regulate their emotions and reduce stress and anxiety by practicing mindfulness.

Various mindfulness activities can be beneficial for children in developing emotional regulation skills. Here are a few to try out with your kids:

– Deep Breathing Exercises

Deep breathing exercises are a simple technique to help children calm their minds and bodies.

1. Locate a quiet and comfortable place to sit.

2. Close your eyes and take a deep breath through your nose, counting to four.

3. Hold your breath for a moment, and then slowly exhale through your mouth while counting to six.

4. Repeat this breathing pattern several times, focusing on the sensation of your breath.

– Guided Meditations

Guided meditations give children a structured way to focus their attention and practice relaxation. 

1. Locate a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down.

2. Close your eyes and listen to a guided meditation.

3. Listen to the instructions and relax your mind and body as you listen.

4. Allow yourself to be fully present in the moment and let go of any distractions or worries.

Guided meditations will help your child to pay attention to different body parts, promoting relaxation and grounding.

– Guided Imagery Activity

Guided imagery activities help kids visualize positive and calming scenarios, reducing stress and anxiety. 

Here are some guided imageries from pediatric psychologists.

You can easily incorporate these techniques into daily routines and practice whenever a child needs support in managing their emotions.

– Mindful Coloring

Focusing on the present moment is another key component of mindfulness. Children can engage in activities such as mindful coloring, focusing on the art materials’ colors, textures, and movements.

Encouraging regular practice and creating a supportive environment for mindfulness can help children develop greater self-awareness, resilience, and emotional well-being.

Social-Emotional Learning Strategies for Emotional Regulation

Social-emotional learning (SEL) strategies play a crucial role in helping children develop their emotional regulation skills. 

SEL focuses on teaching children various skills, such as: 

  • Self-awareness
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship building and responsible decision-making. 

By incorporating these strategies daily, children can learn to understand and manage their emotions effectively, fostering healthier emotional well-being and regulation.

– Cooperative Games

Cooperative games are an excellent way to promote social-emotional learning and emotional regulation. 

Here is a collection of cooperative games to check out on Amazon. 

These games encourage children to work together, communicate effectively, and solve problems cooperatively, all while gaining a deeper understanding of their emotions and how to regulate them. 

– Role Playing

Role-playing activities can also help teach children how to navigate different emotional situations and respond appropriately.

– Group Discussions

Group discussions allow children to express their emotions, share experiences, and learn from one another. 

Children can develop empathy, build stronger relationships, and enhance their emotional regulation skills by creating a safe and supportive environment. 

These discussions can cover topics such as identifying emotions, understanding triggers, and exploring strategies for managing difficult emotions.

Parents and teachers can create a supportive environment that fosters emotional regulation skills by incorporating social-emotional learning strategies into children’s daily routines. 


Using Emotional Regulation Tools and Worksheets

Tools and worksheets are valuable resources for teaching children emotional regulation skills. These materials provide structured activities and exercises that can help kids learn to identify and regulate their emotions effectively. 

One popular tool for emotional regulation is the use of emotion regulation worksheets. These worksheets guide children through exercises that encourage self-reflection and emotional awareness.

For example, a worksheet may prompt a child to identify and label different emotions they are experiencing in a specific situation. This activity will help your child recognize their feelings and develop the skills to respond appropriately.

In addition to worksheets, you can use various exercises to enhance emotional regulation skills. 

It is important to personalize the use of tools and worksheets to meet the unique needs of each child. Some children may benefit from using visual aids, such as emotion meters or charts, to track and regulate their emotions. 

Others may find journaling or drawing exercises helpful for expressing their feelings. 

By utilizing tools and worksheets, children can learn valuable emotional regulation techniques that will create a supportive environment for emotional growth.

These resources provide a structured approach to developing emotional awareness, regulation, and problem-solving skills.


Calming Activities for Emotional Regulation

When it comes to helping children regulate their emotions, incorporating calming activities into their routines can be highly effective. These activities provide a sense of relaxation and an effective way to develop the skills needed to manage their emotional state.

Whether engaging in sensory play or practicing physical exercises, numerous calming activities can help kids healthily regulate emotions. 

– Sensory Play

Sensory play helps children relax and promotes self-soothing and sensory integration. This can involve playing with kinetic sand, using stress balls, or engaging in activities that stimulate the senses. 

It allows them to explore different textures, colors, and sensations, which can have a calming effect on their emotions.

Sensory Play Ideas:

  • Create a sensory bin with different textured materials like rice, beans, or water beads for a younger child.
  • Set up a calm-down corner with soft pillows, blankets, and sensory toys for kids of all ages.
  • Encourage children to engage in art activities like finger painting or playdough.

Check out these sensory activities for more ideas. 

– Calm Physical Movement

Another effective calming activity is yoga or stretching. These activities are a way to help your child release tension and redirect their focus on their body and breath.

Yoga, in particular, promotes mindfulness and relaxation, allowing children to become more aware of their emotions and learn self-regulation techniques.

Physical exercises also contribute to overall well-being and can help reduce stress and anxiety in children.

Physical Exercise Ideas:

  1. Guide children through simple yoga poses and breathing exercises.
  2. Encourage stretching routines to help release tension and promote relaxation.
  3. Organize group activities like dance-offs or obstacle courses to get children moving.

These activities provide children a safe and enjoyable outlet for managing their emotions, ultimately fostering their overall well-being and resilience.

You can find more calming activities here in this blog

Supporting Emotional Regulation at Home and School

Supporting children’s emotional regulation is crucial both at home and in the school environment. Parents and educators can help them develop the social and emotional skills they need to regulate their emotions effectively by providing consistent support and implementing effective strategies for kids.

At Home

Establish consistent routines and clear expectations, as they provide a sense of security for children. Consider incorporating visual schedules to help children anticipate and prepare for upcoming activities, reducing anxiety and increasing emotional regulation.

Additionally, it provides a safe space for emotional expression, where children can talk about their feelings openly without fear of judgment or criticism.

At School

Teachers can support emotional regulation in the school setting by incorporating activities that promote self-awareness and emotional expression. 

Implementing regular emotional check-ins, where children are encouraged to identify and reflect on their emotions, can help build self-awareness and foster emotional regulation.

Teachers can also model appropriate emotional responses and provide coping strategies for children to use when faced with challenging situations. 

Calming activities, like deep breathing exercises or sensory breaks, can also be used in the classroom.

Emotional regulation also plays a vital role in academic success, allowing children to focus and concentrate on their learning tasks.

Parents and educators can empower children to navigate their emotions and develop essential coping skills by providing support for emotional regulation at home and in school. 


In conclusion, emotional regulation is crucial for children, especially those with special needs. Parents and teachers can help children develop and strengthen their emotional regulation skills by incorporating various activities and strategies into their daily routines. 

These coping skills for children include engaging games, mindfulness exercises, social-emotional learning strategies, and tools and worksheets.

Emotion regulation improves their emotional well-being, reduces stress and anxiety, enhances social interactions, and increases their overall resilience. 

Remember, emotional regulation is an ongoing process that requires consistent support and reinforcement. 

With these efforts, we can help children develop the skills they need to navigate and regulate their emotions in a positive and healthy way.

Key Takeaways:

  • Emotional regulation is essential for children’s overall well-being and social functioning.
  • There are various techniques and activities that can help children develop their emotional regulation skills, including games, exercises, and mindfulness practices.
  • Fun games like Emotions and Situation Game Boards and Emotional Twister can help children recognize and regulate their emotions.
  • Mindfulness activities, like deep breathing exercises and guided meditations, can help children become more aware of their emotions.
  • Social-emotional learning strategies and tools, such as cooperative games and emotion meters, can support the development of emotional regulation skills.


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A young girl sitting outside on the ground, meditating with headphones on and eyes closed, practicing emotional regulation activities for children.
Struggling to help your child manage emotions? Find out how emotional regulation activities for children can make a real difference!

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Shannah Holt

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