Friday, January 14, 2011

The Incredible 5-Point Scale

Our son’s school recently started using a book called The Incredible 5-Point Scale to help Kai understand and control his emotional reactions to everyday events.

As the title would imply, the basic element of the program is the use of 5-point scales to teach a child a range of possible emotional responses.  The scale is applicable for a variety of behaviors and can help a child express how he is feeling including describing things such as feelings of anger, anxiety levels, etc.  In the case of our son, differentiating between the varying levels of his distress, for instance, would be very helpful as he tends toward either ‘everything is fine’ or ‘I WANT TO HURT EVERYBODY’ with nothing in between.   

The concept of a numerical scale to express feelings is particularly helpful for kids who may lack the vocabulary to otherwise communicate their thoughts.  And, in my son’s case, any use of numbers as a communications tool would be highly interesting and motivating for him.

Kai’s school had already been using the concept of a 5-point scale, but this book takes it further.  The book explains how to apply the scale across many different situations.  It uses social stories to explain the range of emotions, and to teach what is appropriate under different circumstances. 

The school is introducing the concept with a voice scale.  On this scale, a 1 represents complete silence; 2 is a whisper, which is appropriate for places like the library; 3 is a normal inside voice; 4 is for loud play; and 5 is really, really loud, and is generally appropriate only for emergencies.

When the school began using this scale, they sent home a copy so that we could be consistent with it at home, too.  We received it on the day that we were going out to eat at the Mexican restaurant.  Before we went, we used the scale to explain the tone of voice that was appropriate for a restaurant.  At the restaurant, when Kai started to get a little loud, we referenced the scale as we reminded him to speak in a “2 Voice.”  He understood and immediately lowered his voice to a whisper.

Before, our admonishments for Kai to speak more softly seemed to fall on deaf ears.  That a simple system like this could have such an immediate impact is, well, it is incredible.


  1. I LOVE this. I've never heard of it before but I totally have to start using this with my campers.

  2. Molly, it is nice because it is a simple concept that is easy for kids to understand, and pretty easy to implement.

  3. I'm definitely going to have to use this with my summer camp kids

  4. Yuji, do I need the book or are there any online resources?

  5. Hi Molly,
    I found the following website that has an example of one of the scales mentioned in the book - The Stress Scale.

    You can adapt the scale they show for other things besides stress.

    However, I do recommend that you get the book (it is less than $15). The book gives you many more uses for the scale and also gives a full explanation on how to use it.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...