Monday, July 31, 2017

Feelings Ladders

In order for children to regulate emotions they need to understand that all feelings are okay and there are many nuances to emotions especially the level of intensity. Children need to have a rich emotional vocabulary to label and express feelings. They need to be very aware of  how they are reacting to choose an appropriate strategy to manage the feeling. For anger counselors often use a thermometer but for other feelings like levels of "Afraid" I find a ladder is a better visual for most kids. After we brainstorm and discuss a particular "feeling family" like afraid or unsure they can select and write on a blank ladder handout low, medium, and high feelings in that category they experience. For example:
Anxious, Nervous, Uneasy, Frightened, Panicky, and Terrified. For some students it may be helpful to color the steps that are low green, medium yellow, and high red. Using Feelings Ladders helps students better understand emotions and then you can discuss appropriate coping tools for each level. For example if a student is anxious they may need to use take a movement break, if they are uneasy slow deep breathing, and if they are panicky seek help from an adult or self-talk.  They can write their go to strategy for each level on this handout to help them remember what might work for them. I have used Feelings Ladders both individually and in small groups from grades 2-5. You could also make a blank Feelings Ladder poster and laminate it to reuse.

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