Prepared by: Stephanie Fredericka, LCSW
Let's Get Mutisensory
When you think of the emotions, do you sometimes experience it in color? I know I do! When working with kids who are struggling to identify and label their emotions, I like to make the visual and emotional connection. Yup, I'm keeping it really multi-sensory!
Color Code It
When you think of your experience of anger, do you see red? When I think of feeling happy and relaxed, I see the color yellow. Associating a color with a feeling is a great way to tap into a child’s inner world of creativity and imagination, which is also a beneficial way to build self awareness and coping.
Is there a Swatch for That?
Color swatches (yup, I'm referring to paint color swatches) are a great tool to help our kids make their own unique association between the variation of their feelings and colors. These swatches are easy to come by and can be found in stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot.
Time to Associate
The first step is to present your child with yellow, red, orange, blue, purple, green and pink swatches. Then, ask your child which feelings they think about with each color. Present each swatch individually and ask him to think about what feeling he associates with each color. Children are typically able to match a feeling to a color with ease, which allows them to feel confident.
Level It Out
Some color swatches will go from lighter to darker shades of a color. For these swatches, we talk about how emotions (such as anger for example) can start out at a low level of intensity, and then become increasingly higher as the color gets darker. This is a great opportunity to tie in such tools to help children with emotional regulation. I often discuss that when she feels her body or emotions start to “get bigger” like colors getting darker, she can use her coping skill toolbox as a coping mechanism.
Color & Coping
Now that your child can identify the color associated with their feelings, encourage your child to incorporate the colors into your daily language. For example, as a parent, you can model, "I'm starting to get mad because you have not picked up your shoes and I've asked 3 times already. I started at a light red and now I'm getting darker!"
Next, help your child to identify different coping and calming exercises or activities. Prior to moments of escalation, identify strategies such as drawing, deep breathing, playing with kinetic sand or play doh as a way to decompress and release negative or overwhelming feelings.
By using this activity, I hope it opens up the world of colors, emotions and coping for you and your child!
Dr. Liz Matheis
Dr Liz Matheis and her team specialize in assisting children and their families with Anxiety, Autism, AD/HD, Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Struggles