How Are You Feeling? – A Likert Scale for Kids

Many of the children we work with cannot readily identify and express their emotions. Michelle Sandavol, working with children ages 5 to 11 in a low income, high crime rate area has developed a way to check in with her client’s emotional state. She developed a Likert scale, with visual prompts, using a bulletin board in her room. When the children come into her office they can place a decorated stick on the scale indicating what they are feeling. The goal of this strategy is to engage children on multiple different levels: visually, tactilely, cognitively, and emotionally. When students enter her room she directs them to the bulletin board where they can begin to identify their current emotional state. Once they have done this Ms. Sandavol has an idea of where she can take the session and what interventions can be put in place. She also uses this scale when a child reports or discloses a life event or experience.

There are four scales, with ratings one through five. Each rating point includes a drawing and brief description. The four scales are:

Scared/Brave Scale

Relaxed/Anxious Scale

Happy/Sad Scale


Clinicians are encouraged to come up with their own descriptors. For example, Ms. Sandavol’s Relaxed/Anxious Scale has the following descriptors: 1 The most worried & upset you’ve ever been, 2 Very worried & upset, 3 A little worried or upset, 4 Very calm & relaxed, 5 The calmest you have every been.

Michelle Sandoval is a Marriage and Family Therapy Intern working in a school-based setting with children ages 5-11 in a low income, high crime rate, gang-rich area of the bay area. Ms. Sandoval received a gift certificate for ChildTherapyToys for submitting this intervention idea. Learn how you can do the same!

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