Emotional Awareness

Key elements of building social-emotional health are learning to recognize and manage emotions. There are three strategies to support emotional management: emotional awareness, mindfulness activities, and perspective taking. We hope that you can use these strategies to support student social-emotional health. These strategies can be used in conjunction with Mind Missions or as a part of any classroom activity.

Strategies for Emotional Awareness and Management

Emotional Awareness

Give students words to name their emotions. Very often, we think of individuals as “happy” or “sad.” In reality, there are dozens of effective descriptors for understanding and naming our feelings. 

Use this short list of emotions and ask students to name two that they are experiencing. Be sure to validate all emotions as acceptable. Empower students with understanding their feelings and the impact of their unique emotional state. 

Emotions I feel:

Proud, amazed, worried, guilty, quiet, eager, confused, hopeful, sorry, delighted, jealous, friendly, embarrassed, pleased, impatient, helpful, guilty, curious, concerned, alert, sorry, surprised, angry, calm, relieved, depressed, interested, scared, glad, uneasy, sad, happy

Mindfulness Activities

Sometimes students express anxiety about something they will soon encounter. Teach students these activities to relax and de-stress.

Relaxation phrases

Teach students to use internal statements to acknowledge and support their feelings such as:

“It’s okay to feel this way.”

“I am in a safe place.”

“I can get help if I need it.”

“I can get through this.”

Breathing exercises

Deep breathing “tells” your mind that you are safe. With three deep breaths, your mind will begin to calm. Explain how deep breathing helps to calm your mind. Practice breathing with your students.

Close your eyes and sit up straight. As you inhale deeply, slowly count. Count 1, Count 2, Hold your breath on 3. Exhale on beats 4 and 5. Hold breath on 6 and 7.  Repeat three times.

Perspective Taking

Explain that different people perceive, or see, the same event differently.

Discuss the following scenarios. Ask students to imagine how each person in the scenario perceives the event.

Scenario One– Your baseball team scores and wins the game. Now your team will advance to the next game in the tournament? How might each individual perceive the event?

A winning team member

 A member of the losing team

The referee

The little sister of a winning team member

Scenario Two– Your dad tried a new vegetable dinner recipe, but the meal burned in the oven. How might each individual perceive the event?



Your brother or sister

The dog

Scenario Three – A snowstorm hits town in the middle of the day making driving difficult. How might each individual perceive the event?


A police officer

A pizza shop owner

Your mom

Discuss that perspectives depend on each individual. Try to see events from the perspectives of others. By trying to “see” another point of view, you can build stronger understanding and relationships. 

We hope that these strategies support student understanding and management of emotions.

By naming our emotions, we can understand their impact. Then, we can use tools to manage our own reactions. Finally, we can work to understand the perspectives and resulting emotions of others. All of these tools help us to build social-emotional skills for the classroom and beyond.

Check out more information about Social-Emotional Learning or try out a Mind Missions lesson today! Our elementary social studies lessons provide many opportunities for building social and emotional skills.

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