A simple resource for professionals and parents

Working with, championing and engaging with young people can be so hard, especially those who have on going emotional difficulties or experience low emotional resilience. Over the next few minutes I want you to engage in an exercise that you can then use with the young people you work with based round the concept of emotional scaling. I’ve called it “The Scaling Game.”

Firstly, picture the numbers one to ten

1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10

Now take some time to think about the things in life that make you angry. This could be a range of things from people you love being abused to missing the train and being delayed for work. Once you have done this allocate each scenario with a number. For example, here are mine;

Members of my family being hurt or abused by others = 10


My spouse lying to me = 9


Smashing my brand new phone = 3

Anyone of those numbers and scenarios brings me to a place of being angry, but they all have different levels of anger. It’s okay for me to be a 3 when I smash my phone, but that is totally different to being 10 when my family have been hurt.

We have to help young people feel this and name their emotions in order to help them build their emotional resilience. This is about assisting them to figure out how they bounce back from emotional turmoil and trauma. By using this idea of scaling, they have a clear robust way of thinking about how they feel about certain situations in their life. This in turn allows them make sense of their feelings and begin to make healthier choices around their behaviour, if we encourage them to think about what they are feeling we can then identify the pain that may be coming out as a result of those feelings. We need to enable them to scale their emotions and allow them to respond appropriately to the situations in their life.

Often young people want and expect to live their life in a happiness bubble of 10 and if they are not there 100% of the time, this can lead them to thinking they are depressed. We have to begin to give them the language to articulate how they are feeling and help them to see, it is okay to be a happiness level of five. No one lives their life totally on the mountain top and if we don't help young people to feel a range of emotions, they will be unable to identify and work with how they are feeling as they move into adulthood. 

This tool gave me so much food for thought and it helped me to finally be able to articulate something I have been wanting to help young people do for so long. I really hope this does the same for you. 

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