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Whether emotions are comfortable or uncomfortable, they are a part of life. No matter what emotion a person is feeling, their feelings are valid. It is about learning how to express them in healthy ways.

Talking about Emotions With Children/Youth

Having open conversations about emotions will let children/youth know that it is okay to have their feelings.

Comfortable Emotions are emotions like happiness, joy, and contentment. These are the emotions we want to spread to others. They feel really good.

Uncomfortable Emotions are emotions like sadness, anger, and grief. These emotions help us to appreciate the good times in our lives. These emotions can propel us to take action and make changes.

Whether emotions are comfortable or uncomfortable, it is important to learn how to accept them. You can help your child/youth accept their emotions by validating their emotions/experiences. For example, “Yeah, that would be frustrating. I would be frustrated if that happened to me, too.”

When you are talking about emotions with your child/youth, try practicing empathy versus sympathy. Check out this video by Brené Brown to learn the difference between the two.

Understanding Emotions

Expressing emotions is important. Allow for a safe place for children/youth to express their emotions. Even if the problem or victory seems silly, it is a big deal to them. Therefore, it is valid. A person’s emotions might be different than what yours would be/are in the situation, and that is okay. Everyone handles things differently.

Emotions are not “bad.” There are some emotions which have a bad reputation and are thought of as bad, like anger. It is how someone expresses the emotion which can be a problem – not the emotion itself.

It is important to listen and not to fix the situation. You can ask if the person would like advice or help, but if they do not want it, the act of listening can be helpful in itself. Learning to deal with uncomfortable emotions as a child/youth can help a person later in life.

All emotions are natural and healthy to feel. If a child/youth (or you) feels like they cannot let go of an uncomfortable emotion or they feel like that all the time, it is important to talk to someone about it and use healthy coping skills.

Model Healthy Coping Skills

Children and youth learn by seeing and modeling. If you use healthy coping skills, it will help them to adopt healthy coping skills. What are some healthy coping skills?

Healthy coping skills are things you do that bring positive results, like feeling better without hurting oneself or others. These positive coping skills can look different for everyone. For example, do you or someone you know like listening to sad songs when sad? This could be a healthy coping skill as it offers a release.

Healthy coping skills include:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Journaling
  • Drawing
  • Getting fresh air
  • Talking to a loved one, mental health professional, or helpline
  • Playing with a pet
  • Watching a movie
  • Playing a game
  • Playing sports or being active
  • Hobbies
  • Crafting or building
  • Listening to music
  • Playing an instrument
  • Learning something new
  • Hanging out with positive influences
  • Makeup or fashion
  • Art
  • Relaxation techniques, yoga, or meditation
  • And more


There are countless healthy coping skills. What works for one person may not work for the next. It is about finding what works for you and helping your child find what works for them.

Further Resources

If you would like to speak to someone about mental health issues, the Alberta Health Services Mental Health Help Line is available 24/7, offering information and referrals on any aspect of mental health.

Call toll-free: 1-877-303-2642

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