Emotional Triggers

A trigger is a person, place, situation, or thing (such as a memory) that causes an emotional response such as anger, frustration, joy, sadness, or shame. Knowing our triggers can help us better plan for choosing more healthy responses and we'll explore emotional triggers in this week's lesson.

Elementary and Secondary Lesson


Ask the students in your class, “Have you ever experienced a time where you felt a big emotion such as anger, frustration, or fear and you weren’t quite sure what caused it?” Each of us have emotional triggers that can cause bigger emotions and reactions to happen in the mind and body. 

Teacher will draw the square below on the board. 

Tell the students, “I’d like each of us to create a class list of triggers for each of the emotions below.” (The teacher can scribe or students can write their responses on a sticky note).




 Fear (scared, anxiety):













When we can identify our triggers, we can practice ahead of time how we can better respond. Have students pick one of their triggers identified on the list and share it with a partner.

Follow-Up Activity

(For Older Elementary to Secondary Students)

Have the students complete these worksheets provided by TherapistAid.com to dig a little deeper into your own personal triggers and the impact that they have on themselves.


Teacher Tips

As teachers, it can be helpful to build upon our own self-awareness by identifying our personal triggers. What are certain behaviors that may be a trigger for you in the classroom? Read this article from Edutopia titled, "Boost Your Resilience By Managing Emotional Triggers" to know more about what and who triggers you.