Phrases to Support Social and Emotional Challenges

As an educator or program staff member, it’s crucial to acknowledge when students are facing challenges with managing their emotions and behavior. Here are some helpful phrases and approaches to support children who struggle with social and emotional issues.

1. Express empathy and willingness to assist students in navigating difficulties.

“I understand this is challenging for you. Let’s work together to find solutions.”

2. Reassure students of your support and commitment to their well-being without making unrealistic promises.

“I care about you and want to help make things better.”

3. Be direct yet sensitive in addressing specific behaviors or emotions that are causing worry, avoiding blame and leaving room for improvement.

“I’m noticing some concerns…”

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4. Use observations to highlight specific mood changes or behavioral patterns, opening the door for further discussion.

“I’ve observed that…”

5. Validate students’ feelings and experiences, emphasizing empathy and understanding rather than dismissing their emotions.

“I understand you might be feeling lots of emotions, and that’s okay.”

6. Encourage open communication by actively listening to students before offering advice or solutions.

“Please share what’s on your mind.”

7. Engage students in problem-solving by asking open-ended questions and guiding them to consider potential solutions and their potential outcomes.

“Let’s brainstorm together!”

8. Empower students to take ownership of their decisions and solutions, promoting autonomy and self-confidence in problem-solving skills.

“What do you think would work best?”


Teacher builds relationship with student

“Simple phrases like ‘I believe in you,’ ‘I’m here for you,’ and ‘You matter’ can have a profound impact on students, showing them that they are valued, supported, and cared for in their journey of social-emotional growth.”


Atlanta Regional Program Manager, Wings for Kids

Using simple phrases to support children with social and emotional challenges can have a profound impact on their well-being and growth. Keep in mind that the meaning behind our words matters just as much as the words themselves.

Challenge yourself to provide positive feedback frequently, acknowledging specific behaviors and their positive impact. Whether it’s recognizing a student’s kindness towards a peer or their effort in overcoming a challenge, each acknowledgment contributes to building their confidence and resilience. By being intentional with our feedback, we create a nurturing environment where every child feels valued and supported on their journey towards emotional and social development.

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