Responsible for Our Emotions

The first step in being responsible for our emotions is to be aware of how we are feeling.

Responsible for our emotions
Grade Level: K-5


Character Skills
  • Responsibility
SEL Skills
  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Management
Academic Skills
  • Diligence


  • Do what you are supposed to do. Try your best.
  • Persevere. Keep on trying.
  • Be self-disciplined.
  • Think before you act. Consider the consequences.
  • Be accountable for your words, actions, and attitudes.

Identify and understand emotions, values, attitudes, motivations, mindsets, and personal attributes.


Regulate emotions, attitudes, and actions, and manage negative emotions and impulses.


Exhibit a growth mindset and willingness to learn from mistakes. 

Share This Activity

This activity is designed to get students thinking about how they are feeling and learn what responsibility they have for their emotions. 

  • Share with students that we are all responsible for our own emotions. We have a choice in how we respond to any situation, and we have the responsibility to control our emotions to keep ourselves and others safe.
  • Introduce the stoplight handout and share with the students: what you sound like, what you do, and how you feel for each color.
    • The green light is your calm state.
    • The yellow light describes escalation.
    • Red is distress. Share with students how you feel and behave when you are in distress. It is important to be candid and show students that adults get to the red light occasionally, too.
  • Ask students to individually reflect on their own emotions. Encourage them to write or draw in each light how they feel, speak, or act while that light represents their emotions.
    • It may be helpful to go light by light with students, depending on their level of comprehension.
  • Once students have completed their stoplight, explain that our emotions won’t always be calm (green light) and that it is okay to have strong emotions (yellow or red lights).
  • Remind students that it is our responsibility to control our emotions and try to bring ourselves back to green. We don’t want to hurt ourselves or others (emotionally or physically) because our emotions are not in control.
  • Share that it is helpful to catch ourselves in yellow so we can control our emotions before we get to red. This means that we need to know what yellow looks and sounds like for us. Then, we have to bring ourselves back down to green.
  • Have students brainstorm ways they can bring themselves back to green. Share personal examples and encourage students to think about the resources they have available to them in the classroom or the school.


  • Have students write down a few ways they can de-escalate when they are in the yellow or red. Ask them to think about the resources they have available at school and home, as these techniques may look different in different settings.
  • Students can also describe a time when they did not control their emotions and what they could do differently now.

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