As therapists know, if you hope to be effective in helping children, you must involve the family. No matter the issue, if the parents are not supportive or knowledgeable of what is going on in your work with their child, chances are the progress won’t stick. That is what take-home activities can be so helpful. Parents get to be directly involved in the work of therapy and can assist their kids in practicing the skills they learned throughout the week.
For kids that struggle with emotional expression and communication, learning simple “I messages” can be enormously helpful. With “I messages,” Kids can learn how to communicate their feelings and needs assertively. As they learn better communication, their interactions with others will be improved. However, assertive communication is often a foreign skill, even for adults, so it is easy for children, having learned the skill, to forget to practice between sessions.
Counsellors can send the following feeling chart home with the child’s family to help the whole family remember to work on communicating emotions effectively.
The chart can hang in the child’s room, on the fridge, or in some other prominent location. Each day the child can put an X or a sticker on the feeling that he or she is experiencing that day. If on the fridge, magnets could even be used so that the child could move it around throughout the day to reflect his or her feelings.
Using this type of chart has several benefits, including the fact that it gives children daily practice identifying and expressing their emotions, and it facilitates communication about emotions within the home. A parent who sees that his or her child is “sad,” or “mad”, or “scared” on a given day, has an invitation to explore that feeling with the child and help the child problem-solve ways to feel better.
If the child is not motivated to express him or herself, the chart can also be used as a reward chart, where completing the chart for 7 days straight would earn a reward or privilege.
This particular chart is quite basic, and so will be best used for younger children or those who are very basic in their ability to identify emotion. Older children and teens may benefit from an activity that allows for expression of more nuanced expressions (e.g., frustrated, enraged, annoyed, etc.).
You may download a PDF of this feeling chart for use with your clients/kids here.