Encouraging emotional regulation in children just became easier with Play-based-parentings Feelings Thermometer Scale kit. Children learn better with a holistic approach. That is why I love to combine fun colourful visuals, with emotive language and experiential hands-on activities or games.
I am always trying to improve our calm-down chill out corner and I would love to share the newest design with you. This Feelings Thermometer Scale is ideal for use in homes, schools, early childcare, counselling offices and occupational therapy, or any where with children really.
This visual Feelings Thermometer Scale Kit is kid-friendly. The kit combines visual posters, cues, hands-on coping strategy ideas and encourages emotional literacy, while introducing a toolbox approach that can be beneficial in any child setting. Helping children to regulate their physiological and emotional state is essential for current and future positive mental health.
So how can we do this?
The easiest way to teach emotional regulation – 5 steps
1. Emotional Literacy:
Talk about emotions. Talk about feelings. All feelings are okay and it is important for children to feel safe knowing that it is not the ‘feeling’ that becomes unacceptable, it is a persons behaviour or reaction that sometimes leads to trouble. Example: It is okay to feel angry, but it is not okay to hit your sibling. The first, and easiest step to teaching emotional regulation is to build up a child’s emotive language, or their emotional literacy.
You can do this by talking about feelings and emotions in every day interactions:
- Identify emotions in characters from a book or show.
- Set an example – Acknowledging your own emotions and how your body/emotional state feels.
- Read – There are so many great books that help build on children’s emotional awareness.
- Through play – There are also plenty of games, toys and activities based on emotional literacy. I am a big believer or learning through play so we have lots of favourite play-based learning resources. Or you can or get my game here!
- Role-Play in play by using toys or puppets to speak about and label their emotions.
- Activities like this one to boost emotional vocabulary
I will share some of my favourites at the end of this post. But even just building up their emotional vocabulary around the feelings thermometer scales will help. The posters are labelled. Recently I was introduced to a great book to help build emotional literacy, here it is: What a feeling. The ABC’s for emotions
2. Use a Calm Zone
Setting up a calm corner, a chill out zone, or a designated quiet place is a great start. The art of emotional regulation takes time and practice. This is where the feelings thermometer kit comes in handy. First children need to identify how they feel, use a quiet space to go to and ideally, use a coping tool to help them calm down and feel emotionally regulated again. Then they can use a check out form to evaluate how the feel after.
This is our new calm zone poster set. It fits with the Zones of Regulation curriculum but also works well just to identify feelings and emotions in general and to teach children to notice body cues and emotional arousal before it escalates.
The first two posters ask ‘how do you feel?’ and address our range of emotions. Some times you are down and blue, sometimes you have lost your cool and are red. Other times you are in between but not comfortable, in the yellow. When you are at peace in your environment, and grounded you are green.
3. Have some emotional regulation tools at hand
If the chill out corner is for your home you might have a bucket full of coping strategies, some soft cushions, sensory toys, maybe some tranquil music or books. In the feelings thermometer set you will get the wall posters x 6, a set of 33 visual coping strategies cards and some tabs to display around your sensory toys or books. There is also an activity sheets so children can check in with how they feel, pick a strategy and check out once they use it. This provides them, and yourself a good indication of what strategies work best for them.
The calm zone can be tailored to suit your needs and your child/children. It can be a corner, a room, a secluded area, a counsellors office, the back of a door, or in a book for an individual. It really can be used anywhere. For us the best way to move forward is to
4. Identify Elevated States:
Teaching children to look for ‘body clues’ that they are becoming unregulated is helpful in teaching emotional regulation. A good way to initiate this conversation is by doing a body scan. Draw a body (or trace them), talk about an emotion and then try to identify one way that they feel and where they feel it, for instance “When I feel embarrassed, I feel rosy red cheeks and a clogged up throat and I want to run”.
Here is one I did in a group activity with children. Some of the collaborative feelings that are on the body include: “when I feel nervous I start to get butterflies”, “when I am sad I have a blue stomach”, “when I feel angry I have tight fury fists”. Through body scans, emotional literacy and activities that teach us to be mindful of our body we learn to identify our elevated states earlier on. A key factor of being able to regulate is to notice when we are NOT regulate and take action.
5. Co-regulate and teach them to take action and self-soothe.
Children’s brain’s aren’t developed to self-regulate, so we need to help them co-regulate. We need to lend our calmness and control and let them know they are safe, and it will be ok, and that these unpleasant emotions that might feel horrible at the time are normal and will pass. While also giving them tools. These tools can be modelled or taught with co-regulation and attachment.
A great way to do this is to practice calming, regulating, and useful strategies while you are in a good state of mind. It is a practice. No one, especially not a child, can practice this when they are in an elevated state.
Research on emotional regulation tools suggest childhood mindfulness, belly breathing (slow deep breathing), meditation, yoga and grounding activities such as drumming, nature walks and 5 sense focus, are most beneficial. Bringing your emotional state back to the moment. You can even role model using the Feelings Thermometer Scale and then choosing an action to go and do, to regulate yourself.
Our favourite books to pair with the Feelings Thermometer Scale Kit & Coping Strategy Cards for Emotional Regulation.
Our favourite emotional regulation tools
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