Thoughts, Behaviors, Emotions


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.

Lesson Plan


Additional Resources

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at-home resources At-Home Resources

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Lecciones en Español

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Diapositivas Diapositivas

Recursos para el Hogar Recursos para el Hogar

Guías de Administrador Guías de Administrador

CASEL Competencies

Self-awareness: The ability to accurately recognize one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior. The ability to accurately assess one’s strengths and limitations, with a well-grounded sense of confidence, optimism, and a "growth mindset."

Self-management: The ability to successfully regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different situations — effectively managing stress, controlling impulses, and motivating oneself. The ability to set and work toward personal and academic goals.

Decision-making: The ability to make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards, safety concerns, and social norms. The realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and a consideration of the well-being of oneself and others.

Classroom Teaching Example