Understanding why kids have trouble managing emotions

By Gail Belsky

Expert reviewed by Ellen Braaten, PhD

It’s not unusual for preschoolers to burst into tears when they “ruin” their drawing. Most 10-year-olds wouldn’t do that, though. They typically have more ability to manage their emotions. 

But some kids struggle with managing emotions even as they get older. They might still have outbursts or get overly upset when something goes wrong. Or slip into a bad mood that goes on and on.

These challenges can sometimes be a matter of maturity. Stress and anxiety can also play a role. But a common cause is trouble with self-control

Kids who have a hard time managing emotions don’t only struggle with negative ones. They can get caught up in feelings of joy or anticipation, too. Some get overexcited about social activities or other events.

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About the author

About the author

Gail Belsky is executive editor at Understood. She has written and edited for major media outlets, specializing in parenting, health, and career content.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Ellen Braaten, PhD is a child psychologist, professor, and founding director of the Learning and Emotional Assessment Program (LEAP) at Massachusetts General Hospital.


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