Exploring thoughts with young children 

   
 Sometimes getting little ones to identify thoughts can be tricky. To actually explain to a four or five year old what a “thought” even is can require some creative approaches on our part. This is so helpful to do though to truly explore possible internal triggers, and unhelpful thoughts that may be at the root of many emotional and behavioral concerns. 

I was working with a first grader who would sometimes burst out crying or suddenly appear aggressive without a noticeable outward trigger in the classroom. I started exploring this by asking, “What was going on in your brain before you (kicked your friend, threw your homework, yelled at your teacher etc.?)” To make this more tangible, I had him draw it inside of a brain. These brain hats are printable online and can be laminated (then you can use dry erase marker to draw inside them). 

The child drew pictures, words, hurtful things related to his past that had, for whatever reason, popped up in his mind at that moment and caused such distress. 

We then used the pretend channel changer to “change the channel” in his thinking. He would erase the images in the brain and draw something he’d rather think of. I like to use this brain hat when using CBT and TFCBT techniques with clients. 🙂 

Here’s the link for the printable brain hat. http://www.ellenjmchenry.com/homeschool-freedownloads/lifesciences-games/brainhemishpere.php 

There are so many other uses for this too! Please feel free to share your ideas! 

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