Using a Feelings Thermometer to help curb family stress

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Using a Feelings Thermometer to help curb family stress

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To help your children know what they feel is the best way to help your child know whether they are stressed and how they are going to manage that stress. We teach families to have a language about stress, a feeling thermometer. Just like a thermometer that measures the temperature outside, when the temperature goes up, it will feel hotter. When your temperature goes up, you feel more uncomfortable. A zero is really comfortable and a ten is very uncomfortable. When you are a ten, there are situations that are predictable that are going to make you feel a ten. Some children, I'm alone in the house and I'm five years old. That's a ten. Once we identify the variety of situations where they feel uncomfortable. We then help children to identify where they feel uncomfortable in their bodies. For some kids, their head hurts. For others, they get a big knot in their heart. For others, the blood drains and they go white. Others flush red. If you tune into your body, you know what your stress is. One, you have a situation; two, you know your body; three, what do you say to yourself? What are you thinking in that situation. Is it a hot thought that makes you feel hot, or a cool thought that you feel calm and relaxed. Finally, you figure out what you are going to do, but you never act until you are able to calm yourself down. The feeling thermometer is a language that we want all family members to share and help them manage their feelings to feel calmer.

Watch Mary Jane Rotheram, PhD's video on Using a Feelings Thermometer to help curb family stress...

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Mary Jane Rotheram, PhD

Psychologist

Dr. Rotheram-Borus has spent the past 20 years developing, evaluating, and disseminating evidence-based interventions for children and families. She has worked extensively with adolescents, especially those at risk for substance abuse, HIV, homelessness, depression, suicide, and long-term unemployment. Dr. Rotheram-Borus has directed and implemented several landmark intervention studies that have demonstrated the benefits of providing behavior change programs and support to families in risky situations. Several of these programs have received national and international recognition, including designation as model programs by the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, Dr. Rotheram-Borus has ongoing projects in Uganda, China, and South Africa, as well as the United States. Dr. Rotheram-Borus has authored or co-authored more than 200 journal articles, including publications in Science, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the American Journal of Public Health. She has received more than 40 grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse to design prevention programs for children and families at high risk for HIV, mental health problems, suicide, and substance abuse. In 2001, Science identified her as number two of the top-funded NIH multi-grant recipients; she was the only woman in the top ten.

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