Recommended age: 5+
Includes: 2 PDF pages
Download here or at the end of the post
Use: As an educational tool and activity to teach the different types of anger.
Will enhance social and emotional skills:
Self Awareness: Identify own feelings and emotions
Self Management: Emotional regulation
Due to the popularity of my other printable activities (Discover Your Child's Personal Values, Solving Problems Together), I would like to share an Anger Ladder Chart I developed for my psychotherapy practice.
I use this directly with children to teach them about the different levels of anger and to explore their personal experiences with it.
This chart is also given to parents and educators to use with their children, as the chart can create quality time on learning and having dialogue about anger together.
Since anger can be a difficult topic for children to talk about, I designed this specifically to be engaging and fun for them. And of course, easy for parents and facilitators to use.
I took a thoughtful approach on defining each of the five anger feelings, which includes Annoyed, Upset, Frustrated, Angry and Furious.
Each are different in their own way, from what can trigger these feelings as well as how they manifest in children. The feelings are based on psychology and child development literature as well as my own experience working with children and families.
In the "How it feels" section, I included how each feeling is experienced in the mind and body. Since feelings are experienced holistically, it is important to not just describe how they manifest in our minds but also in our bodies.
In fact, one of the best ways for children to learn about their feelings is how they experience them physically.
Calm vs. Happy
Before we dive into the chart, the question I receive often is why did I use calm instead of happy as baseline?
Calm signifies a neutral state. Most children's neutral state is a pleasant and calm mood. I find it more problematic if we tell children their neutral state should be happy, which sets the wrong expectation, as it implies they should feel happy most of the time.
For example, if we look at feelings on a spectrum, in the category of anger, if one end is furious, then the other end is excited. Calm is right in the middle.
It will look something like:
Therefore, other suggested words to describe a neutral state to children are: calm, content, relaxed, peaceful.
How to use the chart
To teach children the different levels of anger.
To expand self awareness of their experience of anger.
Angry Ladder Chart
Page one is The Angry Ladder Chart. It is best used as a reference tool to learn and discuss about the different types of anger.
Before you begin, have your goal in mind on what you would like to achieve with your child or group.
Example goals: Teach them different levels of anger, have them discuss how anger is expressed by other children around them, have them discuss how they experience anger and what triggers them.
Generally, children tend to be more comfortable talking about feelings from a third person perspective.
Start by asking your child questions that externalize anger. Meaning what have they observed in how others express and deal with anger.
For example, "how can you tell when someone is annoyed?", "Have you ever seen your parents annoyed? How does it look like?" "What makes your sister upset? What makes her frustrated?"
As they become more comfortable talking about anger, begin to ask them how they experience anger.
Example questions can be: "Have you ever experienced feeling upset?", "What makes you feel upset?", "What do you think/feel when you're upset?"
Anger Ladder Activity
Page two is the Anger Ladder Activity. This is a similar format except the "Feelings" and "How it feels" section is left blank to fill out.
This activity is even more flexible and allows for your creativity on how to use it. The "Feelings" section is left blank to accommodate other vocabulary words to describe anger types.
On the "Feelings" section, the facilitator can pre-fill the feelings or have the child come up with their feeling words.
The "How it feels" section is to be filled out by the child.
This section can be made to be "How it feels to ________ (me/mom/dad/friends/teacher/Santa/Arthur/Spongebob)." So the child can share their own experience of anger or from a third person perspective.
This activity can also be used with a story or film as you discuss characters.
I hope you will enjoy using this Anger Ladder Chart, whether to be used as an activity or a print out to post up. The chart does not including any direct coping strategies as this chart is focused on expanding their self awareness. Maybe I will create a new activity with coping strategies in the future!
Do you find this useful? Do you want to see charts of other feelings? Please share with others and leave a comment below!
In case you're wondering if we have more printables, check out our first and most popular printable activity: Discover Your Child's Personal Values.
Play Attune is about providing parents and professionals practical play activities and resources focused on enhancing children's social and emotional wellness. Behind every content we share is the belief that children learn valuable life skills through meaningful relationships and experiences.
Play Attune is created by William, a child and family psychotherapist with extensive experience working with families in various settings. We invite you to join us on learning more and contributing to shape our content!