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5-10 minutes






To help students recognize their emotions and their life situations in a realistic way

  • Explain how our thoughts can influence our emotions, which can lead to various actions (see “Realistic thinking and feeling” practice).
  • Ask students to identify a particular time in the day where they believe they consistently feel a particular emotion – for example, when they arrive at school, entering a certain class, seeing a particular person, etc.

Tracking for a week:

  • Using a journal or their phone, ask students to keep track of their emotion in the predetermined situation.
  • Once the week is over, ask students if they observed anything interesting through their journaling. Was it what they expected, or were there a few surprises?
  • Students do not need to provide any details of how they felt at each of these times as they may not feel like sharing this with their classmates…it is a self-reflection/self-monitoring exercise.
  • Through their journaling, students identify the events that contributed to their emotions.

Practise managing emotions:

  • Ask students to select a practice to try in the upcoming week to modify the emotion felt, if need be, and to track their progress in their journal/phone.
  • Teacher can provide examples of stress management and coping practices (g., breathing, stretching, relaxation).
  • Once the week is over, ask students if they observed anything interesting through their journaling. Was it what they expected, or were there a few surprises?

Keep going:

  • Self-monitoring themes can change every month. Information is tracked by the student.
  • It is important to follow-up with students every week, otherwise they will lose interest.

Complementary practice: Realistic thinking and feeling (Identification and management of emotions)

All students have characteristic patterns of thoughts and actions which affect mood and result in both positive and negative emotions (Oatley & Johnson-Laird, 2014). Understanding these personal patterns is an important step in regulating emotions because students who are able to change the way they think about situations, can efficiently manage their emotions, and stay on task (Lagattuta, 2014; Webb et al., 2012). Embry & Biglan (2008) state that employing a motivational interviewing technique which involves identifying behaviours that should be changed, setting goals to change a particular behaviour, and being aware of actions that might interfere with meeting a goal, together result in increased social competence, goal completion, healthy behaviors, and achievement.

Embry, D. D., & Biglan, A. (2008). Evidence-based kernels: fundamental units of behavioral influence. Clinical child and family psychology review, 11(3), 75–113. doi:10.1007/s10567-008-0036-x

Lagattuta, K. H. (2014). Linking Past, Present, and Future: Children’s Ability To Connect Mental States and Emotions Across Time. Child Development Perspectives, 8(2), 90-95. doi:10.1111/cdep.12065

Oatley, K., & Johnson-Laird, P. N. (2014). Cognitive approaches to emotions. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2013.12.004

Webb, T. L., Miles, E., & Sheeran, P. (2012). Dealing with feeling: A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of strategies derived from the process model of emotion regulation. Psychological Bulletin, 138(4), 775-808. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0027600