To stop escalation and avoid the storm!
As adults, we are sometimes overtaken by negative emotions and unable to reason appropriately in a situation. Imagine what it’s like for children whose brains are still developing! Children can need an adult’s understanding help to recognize the signs that lead to an emotional storm and to support them in choosing the way to comfort themselves and find inner peace.
Here is how you can help a child better manage their emotions:
When the child is calm, help them take the temperature of one of the emotions that they are having trouble managing.
Step 1: Identify the emotion and its levels of intensity
- Help the child identify the emotion that they are having the most trouble managing. Is it anger? Is it frustration? Fear? Sadness? Ask them to write the name of this emotion as the thermometer’s title.
- Explain the thermometer’s colours to the child: green = comfort zone where they feel good; yellow = zone where they start to feel less good but are still able to manage; orange = critical zone where they feel that it could end up in the red if nothing is done about it; red = zone where there is loss of control or a crisis (a storm).
- Work with the child to find five words that can represent the levels of intensity of this emotion (for example, for anger: 1 = calm, 2 = irritated; 3 = annoyed; 4 = frustrated; 5 = furious). Invite them to write these words in the column “I feel” under the appropriate level of intensity.
Step 2: Recognizing the signals
- For each of the levels of intensity for the chosen emotion, discuss with the child the physical signals that can be seen in them (face, body, movements, etc.). If the child has difficulty identifying them, suggest that they think about a recent situation when they experienced this emotion. Write those signals in the “My signals” column according to the intensity of the emotion, or ask the child to do so.
Step 3: Finding ways to soothe
- Together, find the ways that can help the child regain a state of calm and wellbeing based on the emotion (yellow, orange or red zone). Write these in the right place in the “My ways to soothe” column.
Step 4: Refer to the thermometer
- Display this thermometer in a place where the child can see it.
- When the child experiences this emotion, invite them to look at their thermometer to evaluate the intensity of their emotion and to choose one of the methods to regain their calmness or state of wellbeing.
Download the pdf to be able to use the thermometer.
Adapted from fondationjasminroy.com