How Big is My Reaction?

Enrichment Therapies

February 11, 2017

Do you feel like your child often has a HUGE reaction to a small problem? Does not getting first-place result in a full-blown meltdown? It may be that your child does not yet understand how to regulate their emotional response to match the size of their problem.

*Before reading this, make sure to check out my previous blog, “Size of My Problem.” It is important that first, your child is able to sort through the different sizes of problems before moving on to this next concept. At Enrichment Therapy and Learning Center (ETLC) we utilize materials from the Social Thinking Curriculum, specifically the  “Size of my Problem” created by Michelle Garcia Winner.

The size of your problem should EQUAL the size of your reaction.

Once your child understands the concept, the size of your problem EQUALS the size of your reaction, a broken pencil should no longer result in an overreaction or meltdown. It’s important to first discuss this idea with your child when they are calm and not in the moment of a problem occurring.  Practice identifying what scenarios (see the previous blog) would fit into which size problem. Next, discuss the size of the reaction that should go with each size problem. For instance, discuss how big each reaction should be based on the problem.

For Example:

  • Tiny Problem = No reaction: this is a tiny problem and is no big deal!
  • Small Problem= Small reaction: you’re frustrated but this problem has a quick solution.
  • Medium Problem= Medium reaction: you feel upset/sad, it might take you a few minutes to get over.
  • Big Problem= Big reaction: You feel angry/upset and might take you a few hours to get over it.
  • Huge Problem= Huge reaction: You are very upset and this might take you a few days or weeks to get over.

Now that your child understands this concept, try using it during a moment of overreaction. For example, you could ask your child to tell you what size problem they are having. Next, ask them to tell you if the reaction they are having matches the size of the problem. Talk with them about how big the problem seems to you based on your child’s reaction.  Remind them that it’s really just a small problem and has a quick solution!

You can download the size of my problem worksheet to help facilitate the discussion about what each reaction will look like. You can actually draw out the size of the reaction to match the size of the problem. Or create your own visual to make this post as clear as possible for your child.

Be sure to check out this resource for some great at-home tips!

Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs.  At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success.  Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.

740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317


5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131


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