When my son JJ was 16 years old, he was suspended from high school for his impulsive behavior. His peers knew what buttons to push and it continually got him into trouble. The Incredible 5-Point Scale helped JJ regulate his feelings and behavior visually and cognitively. It took consistency with his entire educational team to help him learn this process. Now as an adult, JJ has mastered this technique. He has amazing self control and is very good at problem solving. You can start at any age to teach your child this technique to curb outbursts. This technique is an incredible tool for teaching self-regulation.
The Incredible 5-Point Scale, written by authors Kari Dunn Buron and Mitzi Curtis – two teachers from Minnesota, assist students with understanding social interactions and controlling their emotional responses. Many of us already have this technique ingrained in us when our tempers rise. The 5-point scale helps kids with isms learn how to defuse the situation concretely. By talking in numbers, rather than in socially and emotionally laden words, students can take control.
The scales are visual and they reduce abstract ideas to simple numbers. Authors state “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.”
Outbursts Under Control
The 5-point scale helped JJ control his outbursts.
When JJ was feeling angry and he could feel his temper rising, he would rate his emotion and then look to the established chart to figure out what to do for that anger.
Younger students use drawings of their faces to help them define their emotions.
Older students write it out coinciding with the numbers as follows:
On the scale at a level “1,” JJ would just recognize the emotion (angry vs. scared).
If it escalated to a level “2,” the specific predetermined plan would be for him to draw as drawing helped to soothe him.
If his anger was up to a level “3” when he felt like pacing, he could get up and get a drink of water to help him calm down.
If his anger escalated to a “4” where he felt he wanted to swear, then he could take 10 deep slow breathes to self-regulate.
And if it got to a level “5” where he felt he was going to explode or be out of control, then he needed to seek out a person with authority to help him defuse and problem solve or get to a safe place.
The 5-point scale is a great tool to help control outbursts and meltdowns. It is a pro-active tool to help kids learn how to self-regulate.