Activity: Learn how thoughts affect feelings

This activity shows how thoughts, feelings and actions influence each other, and how to break the chain.

Start by asking your child about an event that made them feel worried or anxious. Use the steps below to help them explore their thoughts and feelings.

A boy doing homework

1. Thoughts make feelings

Ask your child: What was the event? What do they remember thinking and feeling about it at the time?

Example: A student prepares for a test but doesn’t get the result they wanted. They start thinking “I’ll never succeed at anything.” This makes them doubt their abilities and feel scared about the future.

2. Feelings affect actions

Ask your child: What did they do as a result of their thoughts?

Example: The student feels anxious about studying for the next test. They keep thinking about how awful they felt the last time, and put off studying.

3. Actions influence thoughts

Ask your child: What outcome would there have been if they’d thought about things in a different way?

Example: Not preparing for the test results in another low grade. Rather than tackling this issue, the student thinks: “I don’t know why I keep trying. It’s useless – I’m a failure.” This creates a loop of fear and negative thoughts.

Finally, talk about what you’ll both take away from this activity. Does it change how you would think about or react to future events?

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