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Would you use an Emotional Response Scale with your emotionally sensitive child?

  • Yes

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  • Maybe, depending on specific circumstances (please post!)

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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
<p>Hi all-</p>
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<p>My son, R (5yo), started K this year, and in the past month has started exhibiting some disruptive outbursts indicative of emotional sensitivity.  They are terrible storms, but quickly over.  He's probably been this way always, but we've never identified it specifically as emotional sensitivity.  He used to be a hitter, which always had us stymied as we never hit in our house (and to the best of our knowledge, there was no corporal punishment in any other care setting).  Now that we've finally gotten him to "use his words", oh, dear, what words they are: "I hate myself! I want to DIE!" (accompanied by sobbing, and screaming).  He's been having such outbursts at home, and now, in the past week, at school as well, which has us now working with the school counselor and his teacher. </p>
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<p>Full disclosure: my son is quite bright, but we've never had a reason to consider him as being "gifted" or test him for such.  However, in googling "emotional sensitivity" among children, a significant proportion of resources are specific to gifted children, suggesting that this characteristic may be most often recognized and acted upon by those caring for gifted children.  And so I come to this group with this question about a specific strategy for dealing with this.</p>
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<p>One of the websites I found was <a href="http://giftedkids.about.com/od/socialemotionalissues/qt/emotion_coping.htm" target="_blank">Helping Gifted Children Cope with Intense Emotions</a>. This site describes the construction of an Emotional Response Scale:</p>
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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
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<ul><li><strong><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;">Help Your Child Create an Emotional Response Scale</span></span></span></strong><br><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;">Emotionally sensitive children seem to respond to each negative experience as though it were the end of the world. They cannot help what they feel, but they can learn to put these experiences into a helpful perspective, which can help them cope with their strong feelings.</span></span></span></li>
<li><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;"><strong><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;">How to create an emotional response scale</span></span></span></strong></span></span></span>
<ul><li><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;">Take a sheet of paper and write the numbers one to ten in a vertical list</span></span></span></span></span></span></li>
<li><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;">Ask your child what he or she thinks would be the very worst thing that could happen. You may need to work on this as the first answer you get could be something relatively minor like losing a favorite toy. A more appropriate answer would be the house burning down or something along those lines. Write this answer down next to the number ten.</span></span></span></span></span></span></li>
<li><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;">Ask your child what he or she thinks would be the most minor thing that could happen. This may be a little easier than the number ten event. It could be something like having to go to bed a half hour earlier than usual. Whatever the event is, it needs to be something negative. Sometimes children will want to pick something neutral, that is, something that they don't really care about. Write this event next to the number one.</span></span></span></span></span></span></li>
<li><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;">Find an event to write in the number five spot. Once the number ten and number one events are decided on, it's easier to come up with a number five event. Help your child come up with an even that is not really bad and not really minor, but right in between the two extremes.</span></span></span></span></span></span></li>
<li><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;">Fill in the rest of the numbers in the list. This may take quite a bit of revising. You and your child must see the progression from the least to the worst thing that could happen.</span></span></span></span></span></span></li>
</ul><p><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;"> </span></span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;">Keep the emotional response scale handy so that you and your child can refer to it when necessary. You might even have your child create a poster of the list to keep on his or her bedroom wall. Whenever your child gets very upset, you can then ask your child to rate it according to the scale. Of course, they may act as though it's a number ten event, but then ask if they really believe the event is the same as the number ten event on the scale. They will see that it's not. Eventually, they will be better able to manage their emotional responses to various events in their lives.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p>
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</ul></div>
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<p style="margin-left:13.5pt;"><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;">This strategy looks quite interesting.  <span style="color:#333333;font-size:small;">We'd like to work on this over the weekend, but apparently the school counselor is out today, so we can't get her input on it!<span style="display:none;"> </span></span>My husband and I are concerned specifically with potentially invoking anxiety in R as a result of asking him to think about the "very worst thing that could happen".  He does not seem to be an anxious child, but is clearly in a vulnerable state these days. </span></span></span></p>
<p style="margin-left:13.5pt;"> </p>
<p style="margin-left:13.5pt;"><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;">Has anyone implemented such a strategy, or have thoughts on it even without direct experience? </span></span></span></p>
<p style="margin-left:13.5pt;"> </p>
<p style="margin-left:13.5pt;"><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;">Thanks,</span></span></span></p>
<p style="margin-left:13.5pt;"> </p>
<p style="margin-left:13.5pt;"><span style="font-size:9pt;"><span style="color:#333333;"><span style="font-family:verdana, sans-serif;">Karin</span></span></span></p>
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<p>Scaling is commonly used with a variety of issues to support regulation.  The Incredible 5 Point Scale is a good one.  It can be used for all kinds of issues, and 5 points is just tidier IMO with little kids.</p>
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<p>It doesn't have to be the worst thing they can think of, ever.  Limit this negative end of things - guide him to something reasonable.  Like, forgetting his lunch at home AND falling on the playground on the same day.  You're teaching him to put things in perspective and manage his feelings in the everyday, not how to emotionally deal with armageddon.  When you're populating the scale, do it playfully, because you're trying to teach him to lighten up a bit.  Model taking things in stride "oh my, can you imagine having no lunch AND falling on the playground?!?  Being hungry and dirty?!? That would be terrible!  Luckily, if you forgot your lunch you could go to the office and phone me so I could bring you something to eat, and you could wash up in the bathroom!"  This gives the opportunity to coach problem-solving and not being a negative fatalist.</p>
 

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<p>I really like the idea of combining a scale exercise with humor as the PP suggested. I was that child and no one knew what to do with me. I see aspects of that intensity in both of my children and helping them pull back just a little and think out the steps toward perspective that some people can realize very quickly, even intuitively, has been invaluable. When they hit that level of emotional storm, and in the aftermath, they have a hard time reaching that perspective without guidance. It doesn't invalidate their feelings to help them realize that their world isn't ending.</p>
 

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<p>I might (though I think I voted yes).</p>
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<p>Another thing to think about is an 'emotional thermometer'. <a href="http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/image/0015/153231/osp_stressthermometer_jpg_261007.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/disability/about_the_division/office_of_the_senior_practitioner/publications/from_seclusion_to_solutions&h=480&w=324&sz=36&tbnid=Jre3pGNJvUNOGM:&tbnh=273&tbnw=184&prev=/images%3Fq%3Demotional%2Bthermometer&zoom=1&q=emotional+thermometer&hl=&usg=__kBq-Ayg1FoSVWSXwK6qGWl9SVLQ=&sa=X&ei=ElwCTc-RMoqrnQed0MnlDQ&ved=0CBwQ9QEwAg" target="_blank">This is an example</a> (you may need to scroll down until you see the picture). I like this because it includes happy things too and might be easier to teach a 5 year old. If he responds well to this version, then the negative version might be a good idea.</p>
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<p>There's also a good series of books (workbooks really) called "What to do when ..." (<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325&tag=motheringhud-20&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FWhat-When-You-Worry-Much%2Fdp%2F1591473144%2Fref%3Dpd_sim_b_1" rel="norewrite" target="_blank">You worry to much</a>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325&tag=motheringhud-20&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FWhat-When-Your-Temper-Flares%2Fdp%2F1433801345%2Fref%3Dntt_at_ep_dpi_2" rel="norewrite" target="_blank">Your temper flares</a>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325&tag=motheringhud-20&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FWhat-When-You-Grumble-Much%2Fdp%2F1591474507%2Fref%3Dpd_sim_b_1" rel="norewrite" target="_blank">You grumble too much</a>) -- would one of those be good to work through with your son?</p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
<p>Great input guys, thank you!  I love the idea of consciously injecting humor into the process.  And I just One-Clicked <span style="text-decoration:underline;">What to do When Your Temper Flares</span>!  Great tip!</p>
 

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<p>My son (age 6) is very bright, academically advanced, possibly gifted. He also has autism. We have been working hard on helping him understand and regulate  his emotions.</p>
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<p>This book: <span id="user_btAsinTitle">My Book Full of Feelings: How to Control and React to the Size of Your Emotions</span>  <strong><strong><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325&tag=motheringhud-20&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FMy-Book-Full-Feelings-Emotions%2Fdp%2F1931282838%2Fref%3Dpd_sim_b_2" rel="norewrite" target="_blank">http://www.amazon.com/My-Book-Full-Feelings-Emotions/dp/1931282838/ref=pd_sim_b_2</a></strong></strong></p>
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<p>has helped him learn how to identify his feelings and understand that feelings come in different sizes/intensities. It has dry erase pages so we can write down what triggers his feelings and identify good coping mechanisims.</p>
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<p>We also use this book: <span>Incredible 5-Point Scale: Assisting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Understanding Social Interactions and Controlling Their Emotional Responses <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325&tag=motheringhud-20&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FIncredible-Assisting-Understanding-Interactions-Controlling%2Fdp%2F1931282528%2Fref%3Dsr_1_1%3Fie%3DUTF8%26s%3Dbooks%26qid%3D1292001084%26sr%3D8-1-spell" rel="norewrite" target="_blank">http://www.amazon.com/Incredible-Assisting-Understanding-Interactions-Controlling/dp/1931282528/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1292001084&sr=8-1-spell</a></span></p>
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<p><span>We use 5-point scales for lots of things: emotional responses, voice volume, physical activty level, various behaviors, etc. My son loves numbers, so he responds to the scales very well.</span></p>
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<p><span>(Don't be afraid of these book/methods becuase they were developed for kids on the autism spectrum. I lot of parents with "quirky" kids find them helpful too.) </span></p>
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<p><span>These methods are helping my son learn to understand and control his emotions and his behaviors. It's a learning process, not a quick fix, but we have seen a lot of goreat progress.</span></p>
 

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<p>We use the emotional scale with my gifted and super explosive 8 year old daughter. She is also writing a dairy and becoming more aware of her own emotional states. It seems to be helping some!!</p>
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<p>Hugs!!</p>
 

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<p>Reading about this, I tried implementing the the 5-point-scale for my hyperactive/possibly SPD kid just yesterday and he responded very well - except for two things: he insisted he wanted <em>his</em> scale to go up to 10, 5 wasn't enough for him <span><img alt="bouncy.gif" height="32" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/bouncy.gif" width="17"></span>(on some days, I think so too but I still prefer 5, like Joensally says it's just tidier), and that in <em>his</em> scale asleep/quiet/not doing anything would have to rate 0 not 1<span><img alt="lol.gif" height="31" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/lol.gif" width="15"></span>. Duh. Can't fault his logic, and I can't believe other numbers-loving kid don't immediately come up with this. Or is he the only one?</p>
 
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