Motivational interviewing in elementary school 

If you have ever had a training or course on motivational interviewing, you probably learned that exploring the reasons for someone to change behavior is simply not enough. It is also important to explore reasons for not changing. This helps you align with the client, helps them feel validated, and helps you learn just what the behavior is doing for them right now (purpose or function of behavior). For example, if walking out of the classroom and roaming the halls wasn’t serving some kind of function, the child wouldn’t go to such trouble to do it. In my last motivational interviewing training it was purposed that many of the techniques can be used with children over 7, also depending on insight and cognitive functioning.

 I recently bought a scale to use to explore reasons for change and reasons for continuing current behavior. One side of the scale reads “good things about change” while the other reads “good things about not changing.” I thought this could be a fun way for children to hands on use the decisional balance technique and give me some insight into purpose of current behaviors (which makes it a lot easier to explore replacement behaviors). You can even use the bigger weighted items to show importance of reasons for change or not changing. For example, child identifies roaming the halls gives her a chance to see friends she normally doesn’t have classes with (child may decide to use a small weight since she does have other opportunities to see these friends after school). Getting written up and suspended may be a bigger weight in the reason for changing scale because this means she will be grounded and not get to do things she wants to do at home. Just make sure to allow the child to distinguish importance of each item to him or her. And most importantly, try to be open, receptive, and have fun! You can get these scales on Amazon and I’m assuming teacher stores as well. 🙂  


  1. I recently bought this scale and have found it to be a great visual for not only motivation but for thoughts (negative & positive), emotions, actions, etc.. My students love it and are finding very creative ways to use in in our sessions together.
    Thanks you for your post!

  2. What a great idea! Is there any way you could post a link to this scale? I have searched Amazon as well as two teacher sites and couldn’t find it. Thank you!

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