Supporting Children’s Mental Health

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Hanna Beech

Hanna Beech has been teaching for ten years and has a range of experience across Key Stages 1 and 2 in a large Primary School in Kent. She is a phase leader for Years 3 and 4, and also leads on teaching and learning for...
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How can you help children understand their feelings?

Want to help your pupils understand mental health, but don’t know where to start? Try this method with your class to help pupils understand a broader range of emotions.

Knowing Feelings

First and foremost, normalise emotions. Remind pupils that positive and negative feelings are normal, but we prefer to feel positive emotions as they make us feel good. Remind them that everyone has mental health, just as everyone has physical health. Then implement “The 6-minute Definition-Anecdote-Physical symptom (DAP) approach”:

  1. Each week choose one positive and one negative emotion to study.
  2. Before the lesson, explore the emotion thinking of a simple definition for it, a contextual anecdote and the physical symptoms commonly experienced alongside this feeling.
  3. Share the definition, anecdote and physical symptoms (DAP) of the emotion with the class. (3 mins)
  4. Ask the pupils to suggest strategies they can try to overcome the negative feeling. Share these strategies together. (2 mins)
  5. End the lesson by asking pupils to think of someone who can help them if they experience a negative emotion that is taking a long time to pass. (1 min).

Why is this a good strategy?

Often, when we ask a child how they feel, they offer one of two answers: happy or sad. It is important for us to support our pupils in knowing and understanding a range of emotions they may be faced with. In this way, our pupils are able to recognise and label their feelings more accurately.


Create an emotions dictionary that pupils can freely explore when they are feeling something they can’t quite put their finger on. Just understanding a negative emotion can help in unpicking it.

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