At a recent staff meeting we were discussing a few of our kids who were having a challenge with regulating their emotions, such as frustration. Our OT’s had tried discussing the zones of regulation with them but these were kids that were a little older and did not want to discuss how they were ‘feeling’ that day. If colors were even introduced the kids would say ‘I don’t want to talk about colors.’
We decided to get creative about a way to start looking at how a child could tell us how they were feeling without us having to discuss it with them. We decided to make a sign-in board for our kids. We put it around the corner so they could sign-in once they were on their way to therapy and it wasn’t sitting out in the waiting room for all to see.
First we found a poster with various faces on it and we photocopied the poster onto different color construction paper. The colors of the construction paper are the zones that most closely match the expression/emotion displayed on the face. We then cut out each face and laminated it. We used velcro on the back to have it stick to the surface (we may eventually go to magnets and a bigger surface but we used the supplies we had available at the time to trial this).
For kids that are open to talking about how they are feeling we use it as a tool to discuss their emotions and feelings. We’ve had a few kids change their face throughout the session to match their changing mood. For other kids, who aren’t as open to that discussion, we just ask them to pick a face to put by their name. We are then noting what face they pick and seeing if it correlates with their mood that day.
Its not a complete solution but it gave us a tool to start working with some of the kids that were not as open to the topic of their feelings and emotions. We’ll keep you posted as we adapt and grow it!
What tools do you use?
PS – In addition to working on regulation and emotions, kids are also working on their handwriting (they love to write their name on the board), as well as using two hands (including a stabilizing hand) to take the faces off and on.