Using the 5-Point Scale for Emotions Expression and Management

Home » Blog » Using the 5-Point Scale for Emotions Expression and Management

Using the 5-Point Scale for Emotions Expression and Management

February 8, 2024 | Joy Thibeault, LCSW-C | 5 min. read

When emotions are high and coping skills have flown from memory, what is a person to do? Use the trusty five point scale, that’s what!

A simple five point scale can be an invaluable tool at home for the whole family, as well as at school for kids! The scale provides common language a family (or classroom) can share to better communicate, especially around difficult things like emotions identification and expression. It assists in making emotion a more concrete and understandable concept. Additionally, it provides modeling opportunities for parents or teachers, as well as making coping strategies readily available.

A five point scale can also assist children in developing personalized coping strategies and dealing with strong emotions.

Emotion Scale Legos | OMHG Blog
Many things can be useful to rate on your five point scale. It could be how angry you are, how depressed you are, how difficult you anticipate a task to be versus how difficult it actually was after completing it, and of course to determine how big (or small) a specific problem is. As you can see, the possibilities are endless once the common language and understanding of scaling are reached. Be creative and remember to model the concept and procedure, including strategy use, aloud so that it becomes the norm for you and your family.

So how does it work? Simple. First you need to create your scale and fill it out.

List emotions that might fit or describe each number. For example, you might write calm beside one, maybe frustrated or down for two, maybe furious or terrified for five, and so on. Then in the column beside that, come up with personalized strategies that help you when you are experiencing an emotion at that numbered level. Strategies could look like: listening to music, going for a walk, drawing, being alone, moving to a particular room or space, calling a certain person, etc., and should be specific to the individual. It may take some time to gather or try out strategies but having them centrally located later will be invaluable.

When first introducing the concept, just for some practice, you could try scaling characters’ feelings during a show, or role play some situations and practice scaling those. Once everyone has the idea, you can move on to “real life” scenarios as they arise. Below are some examples of ways a parent could use the scale moving forward.

Example #1

A parent using the scale to help an angry child might look like this::

Parent to angry child: “It looks like you might be feeling kind of angry.  Can you tell me how angry you are using your five point scale?”

Child points to a 4

Parent: “Oh….so very angry then.  I’m so glad you told me.  Let’s see what your five point scale suggests for strategies (reference the strategies for number 4 and ask the child which one they might like to try first).”

Example #2

An example of a parent modeling might look like this:

Angry parent: “Dad is feeling really upset and is at a 5 right now.  I am going to take a break and use my strategies to get back down to a 1 or 2 and then we can talk about it.”

This scale and ideas are based on: The Incredible 5-Point Scale by Buron & Curtis

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Practicing Social Skills with Children

Home » Blog » Practicing Social Skills with Children

Practicing Social Skills with Children

October 31, 2023 | Joy Thibeault, LCSW-C | 7 min. read

Practice Self Compassion OMHG Blog
Hello! My name is Joy Thibeault and I am a Psychotherapist with over 18 years of clinical experience working with children.

At Orchard Mental Health Group, I see clients across the lifespan with special interest around treating neurodivergent clients, as well as those with symptoms of anxiety.

Social skills are very important for a child’s development. Strong social skills assist a child in developing strong language skills, creativity, social intelligence, and confidence, but social skills are tough!

Children are learning how to initiate and sustain conversation, read and respond appropriately to body language, and take the perspective of others. Many parents can be confused as to how to practice social skills with their children, whether just for practice, or because they have noticed their child struggling.
 

Below are five simple ways to practice social skills with your child as an integrated part of family life.

  1. Paper Chain. Introduce this activity as a collaborative competition (“Let’s see how long we can make our paper chain”) and explain that you will be adding a link to the chain for every comment or question either of you say that keeps conversation going on one topic. This activity will assist your child in practicing follow up questions, making connections to the experiences of others, and sustaining conversational exchanges.
  2. What Are They Thinking? This activity could be done on the go with real life scenarios, or at home using pictures or a paused video. Observe a photo, paused video, or real scene happening in front of you (e.g., someone in a grocery store parking lot) and ask your child “What do you think that person is thinking right now and why?” This activity will assist in developing perspective taking, reading body language, and cognitive flexibility.
  3. Apples to Apples / Whoonu. Playing certain games available on the market can also be a great way to provide practice for your child. Both Apples to Apples as well as Cranium’s Whoonu assist children in practicing taking the perspectives of others by asking participants to guess what another player might like best based on what the player knows about them.
  4. A Friend Journal. If your child has difficulty initiating conversation, knowing what to talk about to keep conversation going, or has trouble with greetings, creating a “Friend Journal” might be helpful. The child can make a page for each friend or person they might want to interact with which should include information like: how that person likes to be greeted, things that person is interested in, things that person does not like, and any other information important to conversation. Eventually, your child should mentally sneak a peek at the file they have on this person in their friend journal and use it for clues to how they could engage that friend.
  5. What’s the Story? Sitting in the car somewhere? People watching on a bench? Use that time to practice perspective taking and reading body language! Pick out a person, couple, or small group and try to guess what their story could be. You can ask your child questions like: How do you think they know each other and why? How do you think they feel about each other?

When using these activities with children to practice social skills, remember to remain positive and upbeat and to make these activities fun!

If your child offers what seem to be faulty conclusions from what they are observing, or misinterprets a situation, offer your interpretation of the situation including the specifics of what you observed that gave you that answer (e.g., “I noticed that the person has their arms crossed and their eyebrows pulled together, so it made me think they are probably mad.”) Have fun and remember, practice makes progress!

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