Do you have a youngster that struggles with emotional regulation? Do they have a hard time handling their feelings?
Emotions and autism go together like oil and water. They don’t mix well. Kids on the spectrum have difficulty recognizing and regulating emotions. That doesn’t mean you can’t make it work.
With some spices and seasonings, you can mix great salad dressings out of oil and water. Same with emotions and autism. With a few extra ingredients, like a feelings chart, you can teach a kid with ASD how to handle their feelings and understand emotional regulation.
Try out this fun feelings color chart with your child to teach them emotional recognition in three easy steps.
Feelings Color Chart
I used to use this emotional regulation activity in different social skills groups. Understanding feelings in self and others is an important part to learning how to interact with friends. This lesson greatly helped teach kids how to handle feelings.
- 8×11 paper
- Markers: Red, Yellow, Green, Blue Purple
1. Create Feelings Color Chart
First step create the feelings color chart:
- With pen draw a vertical line down the middle of the sheet
- At top of paper in left hand column write “When I Feel”
- At top of paper in right hand column write “I Can Do”
- At the left side of the paper write out color names down the side of the sheet spaced several inches apart
- Optional draw a horizontal line to separate each color and to make boxes for the columns
2. Label “When I Feel”
Second step label the feelings under the emotion column to go with the following colors:
- Red=angry, upset, frustrated, yelling/hitting, out of control
- Yellow=frustrated, worried, silly, excited, some loss of control
- Green=happy, calm, okay, focused, ready to listen
- Blue=sad, sick, tired, bored, moving slowly
- Purple=shy, confused, nervous, scared
3. Label “I Can Do”
Third, write down actions your child can take to get regulated in the “I can do” column. I highly recommend sitting with your kid for this step and either have them come up with ideas or go over suggestions with them. Ideas will vary depending on what works for your youngster. The following is an example:
- Red=take a break, count to 10, take deep breaths
- Yellow=go for a walk, jump on trampoline, squeeze stress ball
- Green=work on homework, read a book, do a chore
- Blue=ask for help, hug a stuffed animal, take a break
- Purple=use calming kit, draw a picture, listen to calming music
And that’s it! You have a great feelings color chart to use with your kiddo.
Using The Feelings Color Chart
Here are some easy tips to follow to teach emotional regulation in three easy steps using the feelings color chart.
1. Review Feelings Color Chart
- Review emotion definitions under “When I Feel” column
- Practice the actions under “I can do” column when your child is feeling good
2. Use Feelings Color Chart As A Visual
- Hang feelings color chart up in an easy to see spot
- When your child is expressing emotions on the chart refer to the visual
- Point out feeling and coach your child on choices of actions he or she can do to get regulated
3. Check-In With Child Using Feelings Color Chart
- During normal transitions, like waking up or getting home from school, check-in with your child using the chart
- Ask your child, “how are you feeling?” or “what color are you feeling now?”
- Child can either tell you or point to the color that matches to how they are feeling
- Help your child find the action they can take to help them get regulated
With the help of the feelings color chart you will be able to teach emotional regulation in three easy steps!
If you need help teaching emotions to your kids be check out this fun emotion flash card activity!
Elizabeth Purpero is a licensed school counselor and licensed professional counselor-in-training. She has her master’s in counseling psychology. Elizabeth has worked as an autism therapist with children and teens. During her career, she has worked in intensive at-home therapy programs utilizing ABA and play therapy along with OT and speech therapy techniques. She has also worked as a mental health therapist helping clients address their mental health issues as it relates to autism. Elizabeth’s background working with the autism community has greatly helped her work with students in schools too. She has helped teachers implement effective strategies, create goals for IEP’s and make classrooms more sensory-friendly. Mark Twain once said, “Write what you know about,” and Elizabeth enjoys writing about autism-related topics and providing additional resources to help those impacted by autism.