Avoid Outbursts: Teach Children Emotional Control

Avoid Outbursts: Teach Children Emotional Control



emotional controlWhen my son, JJ, was 16 years old, he was suspended from high school for his impulsive behavior. His peers seemed to know what buttons to push to get him to lose emotional control and get their desired reaction.  It continually got my son into trouble.

The Incredible 5-Point Scale helped JJ visually and cognitively regulate his feelings and behavior.  It took consistency with his entire educational team behind him while he learned the process to regulate his emotions.  By the time JJ was a young adult, he had mastered this technique of self-regulation.  He demonstrates amazing self control and is very good at problem solving.

You can start teaching your child this process at any age.  You will be amazed at the increased ability to curb outbursts and your child will have a life long tool for self-control.

What is the Incredible 5-Point Scale?

The Incredible 5-Point Scale, written by authors Kari Dunn Buron and Mitzi Curtis – two teachers from Minnesota, assists students with understanding social interactions and controlling their emotional responses.

Many of us already have this technique ingrained in us.  As our tempers rise, we can pull on the regulatory tools within to curb outbursts.  However, for children who need an external tool to learn how to defuse a bad situation concretely, The 5-Point Scale is a life line.

By talking in concrete numbers, rather than in confusing socially and emotionally laden words, students can take control. The scales are visual and they reduce abstract social concepts and emotional feelings into simple numbers.

Break Complex Emotions Down into Concrete Parts

“The idea is that how we act, react, and interact in difficult situations depends on our ability to quickly and efficiently assess what is happening and consider the consequences of our actions. Students who lack social competence can benefit when repetitive problems are broken down into clear, concrete parts.” – Buron & Kurtis

In addition to helping JJ control his outbursts, the scale helped him to decipher if he was feeling angry or scared. For instance, when JJ was feeling angry and his temper was rising, he would rate his emotion and then look at the plans on the chart to figure out what to do.  The plan is established in advance by using a worksheet.  This plan is integral to the success of the process.

Young Students Learn Emotional Control

Younger students use drawings of their faces to help them define their emotions.  The ideas for younger students are endless.  Here are a few examples:

Older Students Learn Emotional Control

Older students write it out coinciding with the numbers.  For JJ, we had a plan that looked something like this:

Level “1” – JJ would simply recognize the emotion.  Was he angry or scared? If his emotions escalated, he would move to level “2”.

Level “2” – JJ’s plan was to draw as drawing helped to soothe him.  However, if his anger was quickly moving up the scale, he would move to the plan in level “3”.

Level “3” – at this stage, JJ would normally begin pacing.  However, his plan was to get up and go get a drink of water to help him calm down.  Sometimes, his level of anger would take him to a level “4” bypassing all other levels.

Level “4” – at this level, JJ would feel like swearing.  However, his plan was to take 10 slow deep breaths to help calm him down.  Unfortunately, there were times when he felt like he was going to explode.

Level “5” – When JJ reached this level and he felt an impending sense of being out of control, the plan was to seek out a person with authority to help him defuse and solve the problem.  If that was not possible, the plan was to get JJ to a safe place.

Here are some examples that can be used with older students:

I believe whole-heartedly that The 5-Point Scale is a fabulous tool to help control outbursts and meltdowns a tool to help children learn how to self-regulate.  Explore More >> The Five Point Scale – It’s Impact on Self Regulation.