The Power of Emotions

 By Amani Attili, Educational Consultant & Coordinator of Labeeb’s Friends*

Educators agree that emotional wellbeing has a huge effect on the social and cognitive development of both children and adolescents. Yet children are often denied the right to define their emotions and react accordingly.

Phrases such as “you’re going to be alright”, “you shouldn’t feel that way”, “forget it/don’t dwell on it” are often used as responses by adults. Instead, we should remember not to categorise feelings as right or wrong but enable our children/students to successfully identify their feelings and develop the ability to manage and express said feelings correctly.

Feelings are part of our biology. The chemical nature of feelings has such a big role in our bodies and minds in the way that it triggers thoughts and leads to actions. Many of us have experienced a time where our hearts raced and our palms became sweaty from rage or panic or when our emotions affected the way we felt physically or even our digestion. Emotions are powerful.

Many parents regret saying hurtful things to their children during a fit of rage, and later wonder how they could ever say such things. Emotions have a strong effect on our words and actions. Emotions are powerful.

Human beings experience many emotions that are exclusive to their human nature. These emotions are difficult to categorise into one particular emotion or another. What we experience is usually a mixture of feelings and emotions, as is what children and adolescents go through at schools during tests and while dealing with educators and fellow students as well as at home with their families. This means that the responsibility of developing the emotional capabilities in children falls heavily on the adults surrounding them.

Be aware of the ways in which these emotions will surface and which unwanted actions they may trigger. Help your child recognise these emotions and understand them to then develop ways in which to deal with them.

Feeling jealous at the arrival of a new baby sibling is an example. Jealousy is a mixture of love and anger. A child loves his mother and craves her attention, and feels anger once her attention is then focused on another. Parents usually react to this by ignoring it or reprimanding the child. They could even reach extremes such as physical punishment, forgetting that these feelings that the child has are perfectly normal and expected, and it is in fact the opposite that would be abnormal. The correct way of dealing with a child’s jealousy is explaining to them that these feelings are normal, that it is because he or she loves their mother and her attention and some of that attention has now turned towards someone else and that we must learn how to accept this new change and deal with it.

It is only natural for us to find this task difficult when we have neglected it for years, but it is the first step in helping our children by helping ourselves first. The following activities may benefit you as well as your children in recognising and understanding your emotions.

Helping your child develop the ability to recognise an emotion and what it triggers both physically and mentally


Multiple times throughout the day

How long will it take?


What do I need?

Explain to the child that throughout the day you will stop and ask them the following questions:

What signs are showing on your body? (A smile, a frown, tense muscles, relaxed muscles)

What is your current mental state (concentrated, distracted, attentive)

What are your current feelings? (Calm, happy, worried, excited, bored)

This exercise will help you and your child recognises emotions and what they trigger, even if subtle

What do I do?

Helping your child recognize their feelings as well as others’ around him and understand the causes.


20 minutes

How long will it take?

Emotion Domino cards

What do I need?

1. Using a piece of cardboard, cut up cards in a size suitable for your child

2. On each card, draw a face expressing a certain emotion (or stick a picture)

3. Write a phrase that describes an emotion (different from face) and continue creating similar cards with varying face expressions and emotions

4. Begin playing the game with your child in the way you would play dominos

5. During the game you can ask, “Have you ever felt this way? What caused it?  This will help them identify what triggers certain emotions”

This exercise will help you and your children recognise what each emotion is called as well as identify what certain facial expressions represent

What do I do?

Helping your child identify their emotions and recognise their physical side effects and causes


15 minutes, once or twice a week

How long will it take?

A children’s story book

What do I need?

Choose a suitable time to sit down and read with your child, stop every now and then to ask questions like:

What is the character feeling? How did you know that?

Have you ever felt the same way? What caused it?

Why did the character behave that way?

Was the characters behaviour right? (using the golden rule)

Teach your child the golden rule for the good solution: a good solution will make me feel better without harming myself or anyone else

What do I do?