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Emotion Coaching

At St Mark and All Saints we use Emotion Coaching. 

It's an approach that we can all use to help children and young people …

‘Emotion coaching helps young people to  understand the different emotions they experience why they occur and how to  handle them.’ (Gottman 1997)

Emotion Coached young people are better able to:

Control  their impulses

Self- soothe when upset

Pay attention

Do well at school

The 4 steps of Emotion Coaching

Step 1: Recognising the child’s feelings and empathising with them. 

What is/are the feeling(s) 

Step 2: Labelling and validating the feelings 


“You seem angry to me” 

“I can see you’re feeling angry”

 “I can tell you are angry…” 

“The way you are feeling is making you angry”

 “You’re angry about…”

 “You look kind of angry…” 

Empathising – validating 

“I’m sorry that happened to you, you must feel very”

 “I can see that you get angry when that happens/when I do do this”

 “I would feel angry if that happened to me” 

“I would feel angry too” 

“That would make me angry” 

“I understand why you are angry 

“It’s normal to feel angry about that” 

“It’s OK to feel angry about that” 

Step 3: Limit Setting (if needed) 

• Clarify what is an acceptable expression of emotion (i.e. behaviour) and what is not – set the limit • Allow to calm down

• Separate Emotion from the Behaviour


 it’s not OK to behave like that” 

“that behaviour is not acceptable”

 “…..the rules are that we do not…”

“…..these are the rules that we have to follow”

 “….. doing that is not OK….” 

“…..behaving like that is not helpful” 

Step 4: Problem Solving 3 parts – exploring, problematizing, solutions 

a. Exploring: 

• Exploring the feelings that give rise to the problem/behaviour/situation – be specific. 

• Child might need to think about what they were trying to achieve with their behaviour, what did they want to stop or start.


“How were you feeling when that happened?” 

“What did it make you feel like?”

 “Have you felt that way before?”

 “What were you trying to achieve by………” 

b. Problematising:

 • Identify alternative, more appropriate and more productive ways of expressing and/or managing feelings and behaviour/actions 

• Empower the child to recognise feelings, behaviour and take ownership/responsibility of actions and finding ways to self-regulate in the future. 


 “Let’s think of what you could have done instead” 

“Can you think of a different way to deal with your feelings?”

 “I can help you to think of a different way to cope”

 “Can you remember feeling this way before and what you did”

 “Have you thought about doing this instead?”

c. Solutions 

• Agreeing possible solutions – helping them to think of ideas where appropriate


“Try and do this next time you feel like this”

 “Let’s decide what you will do next time you feel like this” 

“Do you think doing that would be more helpful for you and others?” 

Find out more by watching this short video:

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