December 1, 2020

Let's Learn About Anger! A Guide To Emotional Literacy

 Hello Everyone,

I hope you are well.  Sometimes just saying mad, sad, or happy, just doesn't cut it.  We're feeling an intense feeling that using those words does not effectively describe what is being experienced.  We need to be emotionally literate and aware of these other feeling states so we can either ask for help in managing them as well as understand and even help ourselves.

The "Anger Family" has been designed with that in mind by teaching what is called EMOTIONAL LITERACY.  -the ability to identify, understand, and mange more complex emotional states.  Emotional literacy requires an understanding that many feelings in the same "family" can exist at one time and move very quickly through different levels of intensity as you continue to experience more inputs and emotional triggers.  It is, therefore, important, to be able to know how to GRADUALLY work through different feelings to get to a more desired state of being.  These feelings can often seem like "being mad" and often share characteristics of it.  However, unlike garden variety mad, these states are different, with different levels of power, and require different tools to manage them and ways of understanding how they work.


1. Identify the feeling by observing the triggers of the feeling and its associated physical signs (movement, body language, language, physical behaviors, etc.) and their intensities.

2. Identify the power level of the feeling.

3. Identify which level of coping tools you need to use by comparing the identified feeling and its intensity with the coping tools list.

4. Use the identified tools at each level as you GRADUALLY work your way down to the lowest power level and a calmer emotional/energy state.

5. Process the incident with your child when you are both calm and able to engage each other without ramping back up.  Be sure to specifically name the feeling, its power level, and the associated skills you used.  Be sure to point out how feelings change and that no feeling stays around forever no matter how intense.  By reinforcing the use of the coping tools and validating your child's effort, you reinforce this message as well as helping build confidence in the self-management of new, intense feelings that they become aware of with increased emotional intensity.

A couple of notes for parents:

Hey Parents!  Remember that helpful tools like taking deep breaths and talking through feelings require calm, attention, and organization of thoughts.  Your child cannot use these low power tools when they are overwhelmed by the energy of high power feelings.

Tools for high and medium power feelings are there simply to reduce the dis-regulating intense energy and help you get to a calmer place.  then you can use the tools that teach more awareness and planning for future instances of experiencing any of the feelings on this handout.

You may note that there are a number of destructive outlets provided for the high power feelings on this handout.  These are designed to provide explosive, intense releases of intense energy and generate fatigue as well as a release valve to get energy out and begin the calming process.  If your child can get out the explosive energy without resorting to aggressive behaviors then DEFINITELY use those!!!

The destructive suggestions are provided simply to redirect violent and other destructive behavior (ie. property) to a "preferable" outlet as you continue to work towards desired expressions of feelings with your therapist.

When looking at the handout, you will notice that we deliberately left the picture boxes empty. Visual cues will be much more relevant and useful if you use your own visuals that trigger reminders regardless of what they are.

You will also notice that we deliberately left the triggers and feelings warning signs blank.  Again, everyone experiences these feelings differently; triggers and outward and inward expressions of these feelings will be different.  Work with your child (when calm) to explore how they know they are having these feelings; combine their observations with yours and write them here.


  1. Thanks for this. I would like to print it, is it possible to get a PDF?

  2. Another great blog post...thatnk you this is great!!