Thoughts, Behaviors, Emotions

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Learning Goal

Students will understand the relationship between thoughts, behaviors, and

Learning Objectives

By the end of the lessons, students will be able to:

  • Identify the impact of thoughts and behaviors on emotions
  • Identify methods for managing emotions through changing thoughts and behaviors
Learning Summary

Behavior is directly related to thoughts and emotions. When students feel or think negatively, they often behave accordingly. When students feel and think positively, their behaviors reflect this in the classroom and at home. Understanding the triad of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and how changing one of the three can change the others, ties together many of the skills and ideas taught in this program.

The lesson starts with a Mindful Moment in which students release tension by pushing down on their chairs, then pulling up, then letting their arms dangle. The lesson then introduces students to the cognitive triad: the idea that our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are all connected. Students work to come up with as many topics and strategies that the class has learned over the course of the year. Then, students categorize the topics into columns to support and help with their thoughts, emotions, or behaviors. Students discuss the strategies they have learned that work and even those that they are hesitant to use. Students end by reflecting in the journals.

computer icon Online Teaching Tips for Thoughts, Behaviors, Emotions

This lesson does not require any significant modifications for online learning.

For the Review of Concepts activity, there are two options: either split up your class in breakout rooms to fill out the Group Table or have students do it independently.

For the Review of Concepts activity, have students fill out the Group Table worksheet independent. Complete your own Group Table to share big ideas and connections with your class.

CASEL Competencies

Self-awareness: The abilities to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts. This includes capacities to recognize one’s strengths and limitations with a well-grounded sense of confidence and purpose.

Self-management: The abilities to manage one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations and to achieve goals and aspirations. This includes the capacities to delay gratification, manage stress, and feel motivation & agency to accomplish personal/collective goals.

Responsible decision-making: The abilities to make caring and constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions across diverse situations. This includes the capacities to consider ethical standards and safety concerns, and to evaluate the benefits and consequences of various actions for personal, social, and collective well-being.