When Feelings Overwhelm: How to Help a Child


Feelings.  I deal with them daily as a therapist.  We all deal with them daily as human beings.  Feelings have the ability to enhance our lives.  They also have the knack to detract from our lives, when left unchecked, when overwhelming and when we don't have the right tools to deal with them.  

The Good News 

The good news is that tools do exist to deal with every shade of feeling we can experience.  These are tools we can teach our kids.  I've spent my career developing and honing these tools.  And I've also seen firsthand how these tools transform lives.  

Feelings Mountain

See the "feelings mountain" shared on the post graphic?  I've been making those for years with kids.  It depicts what is shown to the world, but what is up underneath it all, too.  It's a great visual to help kids identify that they have a variety of feelings swirling around inside of them.  The feelings in this graphic are REAL feelings, as experienced by an elementary student just recently.  The student dictated the feelings while I added them to the mountain.  Our kids can experience a sense of overwhelm with feelings.  They look to us for help.  We can totally help them with this! You can't punish a kid out of a feeling...you can only support him and give him a new, better way to cope.  This is why we're starting out our list with books that support adults in raising and caring for children.'

"You can't punish a kid out of a feeling...you can 
only support him and give him a new, 
better way to cope."

Here's a closer look at Feelings Mountain:

And speaking of Feelings Mountain, it's interesting to note that Dr. Lynne Kenney has a bit of different twist with her Anger Mountain:

Parenting/Teaching/Caregiving Books

Getting our own stuff together is the ONLY way we can help our kids get theirs together.  Really.  Get a new sense of calm and begin to see yourself "in your child's corner".  You are not pitted against your child. Your child is always doing the very best he or she can.  Learn how to control your reactions and develop a whole new kind of relationship with your child.  A harmonious home does wonders for ALL!

Learn how to control your reactions and develop 
a whole new kind of relationship with your child.

It's why Dr. Lynne Kenney and I wrote BLOOM: 50 Things to Say, Think and Do with Anxious, Angry and Over-the-Top Kids. We'll start off there:

Coming Soon! (2015)

1.  Bloom:  Move away from punishment (which doesn't work) and towards solutions that help your child with new thoughts, words, actions.  Coming soon from Unhooked Books. This book has 50 years of combined clinical experience by Dr. Lynne Kenney and me.  PLUS...we have lived to see the magic that happens when these principles are embraced and used daily! Think of the teachings in this book as a multivitamin for your relationship with your child!

2.  Also, check out Dr. Kenney's "Family Coach Method". Dr. Lynne does not disappoint.

3.  The Gentle Parent by LR Knost.  Available on Kindle. Read it.  That is all.  See what we had to say about  it here.

(PS...You don't need a Kindle Device to read a Kindle book.  We tell you all about how to read a Kindle book right from your computer or mobile device right here!)

4.  If I Have to Tell You One More Time by Amy McCready.  My youngest took that exact stance depicted on the cover of Amy's book when he was a younger child.  I guarantee you that we did not help him break that habit by yelling, punishing or time-outs.  Not even close.  More about that, later.  McCready's book offers you a respectful, relationship-based way to help your child cooperate.  


This can be tricky.  Kids with anxiety present with a variety of concerns: it can look like fear/worry, oppositionality, anger and more.  Once you know you are dealing with anxiety, there are many ways to support a child.

5.  Anxious Thoughts.  This printable can help kids who are old enough to write about what their thoughts are.  For the younger crowd, simply have *+them draw pictures of things that trouble them.  This printable could also be used for angry thoughts, happy thoughts or just about any thoughts someone could have! 

6-61.  Worry Warriors.  We compiled this list of support strategies a while back.  It has been one of our most viewed posts EVER! Anxiety and anger are two of our most searched topics! (PS...I didn't count wrong...the post above actually has MORE than 50 activities!)

68. Lori Lite's Stress Free Kids is a NOT-TO-BE-MISSED book!  Yours truly has a chapter in the book about helping grieving children.  More to follow on this book in a future post!



117-121.  5 Tips to Help Kids Cope with Sad Feelings



122. Worry Woos: Fuddle: Dealing with Confusion.  Any of the boxed sets by the Worry Woos is worth every single penny.  Quality and genius all wrapped up in a cute kids' product that help with coping skills and self-regulation.  Woo~t!  Plus, the Woos are past recipients of the Kidlutions Preferred Product Awards for Social Emotional Development.  If you use their products, we think you'll agree!


Printables on Anger, Self-Esteem, Divorce, Grief, Friendship and MORE!  FREE!

123-137. Our FREE printables to help with a variety of feelings!

138-156.   Books that help with ANGER.

Mixed Feelings

157. Kimochis.  Have no fear (or go right ahead and feel it if you do)! The Kimochis are here and they can help you deal with any feeling imaginable.  I adore the Kimochis and they are also a recipient of our Kidlutions Preferred Product Awards for Social Emotional Development.

158.  And for hundreds more resources on dealing with feelings, see our FEELINGS and PLAY THERAPY boards on Pinterest!

How do you help kids deal with feelings?

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naomi said…
There are some great resources there Wendy. Am tempted to buy a few of those for my practice.
Amy McCready said…
Wendy - thank you for this wonderful list of resources and thank you for including me! xo

Amy McCready, Positive Parenting Solutions

You are so welcome! Thanks for all you do for kids and families!

Wendy =)

I'm glad you found it helpful! I love all of the resources I shared here!

Wendy =)
Kristin said…
Talk about feeling overwhelmed! How is a busy and tired mother supposed to find time to read all this? I would love to read most of these but there are not enough hours in the day!! Which few would you recommend the most for someone who has very little time? Thanks in advance
Aha, Kristin! Good question. These are all resources I have read/used and recommend! But, alas, I did not read them all at the same time! Talk about being overwhelmed...for sure! I suggest just picking one topic that is most pertinent in your family and then select one resource to peruse. Then come back as the need arises and select another topic/resource! You cannot go wrong with any of them. Really!(Shameless plug: The book I co-authored with Dr. Lynne Kenney: BLOOM: Helping Children Blossom is a quick, to the point book that helps open communication, facilitates dealing with feelings and builds more harmonious families!) It's how Dr. Kenney and I raise our kids!
Kristin said…
Thanks so much, on the other hand I am glad to have a quick and concise resource for good parenting books. I will fir sure bookmark the list for reference!

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