Emotion Regulation for Kids: The STOP Technique

We all experience a variety of emotions on a daily basis. Sometimes we may even experience multiple emotions at the same time. Parents and other adults who live and work closely with children have the privilege of teaching children about emotions and how to work through difficult emotions such as disappointment, anger, sadness, and loneliness.

Helping our kids identify and manage emotions allows them to understand how they are feeling and teaches them emotion regulation skills.

An emotion regulation technique I often teach my kid clients and their parents/caregivers is called the STOP technique. This technique encourages us to practice mindfulness and can help us manage emotions instead of letting emotions overwhelm us.

STOP stands for…

S Stop – Take a moment to pause and stop what you are doing 

T Take a deep breath – Breathe in slowly through your nose, hold your breath for 2 seconds, and then breathe out slowly through your mouth

O Observe – Notice your surroundings and any physical sensations, thoughts, or feelings you are experiencing 

P Proceed – Continue with what you are doing while noticing how you are feeling and what you are needing to pay attention to in the moment

Next time you or your child is feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or dysregulated, try the STOP technique and notice how it makes you feel.

Written by: Mary Anne Sylvester