A game with a child (or adolescent) is not just a game, if you keep an open mind to learning more about them. Whether you are a parent, therapist, or other adult in a child’s life, you can gain a greater understanding of their personality, strengths, weaknesses, and other tendencies by being observant and mindful of a few things.
Some of my favorite non-therapeutic games to play with children include Uno, Jenga, Checkers, Sorry, Chutes and Ladders, and Candyland. These games are not created for therapeutic use, like Totika, Use Your I’s, or Cyber Smart, yet when a non-directive approach is taken with children, we often gain valuable insight and results from the approach.
- Decisive versus Indecisive: Does the child have difficulty making a decision about their next move, or do they seem to make up their mind pretty quickly?
- Secure or Insecure: Do they appear to worry about their move, or maybe show anxiety about getting far behind? Maybe they are just the opposite and show a high level of confidence in their abilities.
Over time, I have come across many anger-related activities from websites, blogs, and more. I decided to gather them all in one place and came up with a list of 50. If you have any other tools targeting anger, please share with the rest of us!
4. Angry Tornado
This anger management activity can show a client how anger can build up inside a person. It can also show the client that when they feel an angry tornado building up inside of them they can use coping skills to help defuse the anger.
5. The Tower
With this activity the play therapy client will create a “visual” of their problems being locked away in a tower and come up with solutions to solving these problems. If the play therapy client is not ready to create a solution to the problem the client can still benefit by visualizing the problem locked away in the tower. The play therapy client can become empowered by separating themselves from the problem that is locked away in the tower.
Anger control cards define problems experienced in a variety of settings and enable children to develop self-awareness and behavorial skills.
The ingredients – some meat and cheese, two tomato slices and a piece of lettuce – represent the things that we’ve talked about trying when the worries start to overwhelm.
11. Power Cards
Power Cards are highly visual and they contain short blurbs or lists of information that will help a child in various situations that he may come across.
13. Anger Map
After reading When Sophie Gets Angry–Really, Really Angry…, we played a game with the tree pictured. I gave students examples of things that made them or Sophie angry and had students put a leaf on the tree for their response.
18. Anger Gage
The Anger Management Puppet Set includes 3 Puppets, a CD of recorded script and catchy original music, and a separate guide. The two scripts and one CD that are designed to help counselors, teachers, or parents teach children about how to be a good sport and how to deal with anger. These puppets are suitable for small and large hands are quite durable. They are made for long term use.
For people to recognize and understand that the anger they keep on the inside affects how they live their lives. To help people recognize the good things that they have in their hearts and to encourage them to share this part of themselves with others.
Give these cards to students to use throughout their day. Have them place their thumb behind the card and watch for the color change to reveal how calm they can make themselves. Four useful steps to anger control are provided on the back of each card.
Kids had fun practicing these, and it was inexpensive to reproduce laminated flip books to send home with clients.
29. Sailing Through the Icy Fields of Anger (online interactive tool)
30. Squeeze Your Angries Out (online interactive tool)
Escape form Anger Island™ is designed with the busy counselor in mind, and it can be played in just 15 minutes. There are six skills in total, and one skill is the focus of each 15 minute session. Kids can play multiple times to learn all six skills.
These cards depict different elements of the anger cycle. Using appropriate cards in a variety of activities discussed in the accompanying booklet will facilitate awareness of the causes of anger and help to work out ways to overcome those triggers. For use one-to-one or with small or large groups.
In this new game, players have fun playing dominoes while learning to manage their anger and problem-solve in a thoughtful, assertive, and respectful way.
This game is intended to introduce the concept of anger management to children, while encouraging them to talk about things that bother them. The game is played like the familiar children’s card game of War, but with a peaceful twist!
The game can be introduced with two included short stories about “Self-Control Seth” and “Bad Attitude Brittany.” Also included are ideas for reinforcing the concepts presented in the game.
Here’s a deck of cards that teaches children how to manage their anger. Using two internal dialog techniques—Thought Stopping and Self-Talk—kids can stop anger in its tracks. By simply playing cards, they learn to envision a stop sign whenever their anger is triggered and to replace their angry thoughts with more positive responses.
Angry Aardvark, Cranky Crab, Furious Frog, Mad Meerkat, Peeved Pig, and Raging Racoon teach children how to respond to anger in healthy ways. As they move from the Anger Volcano to Tranquility Beach—with occasional visits to the Time-Out Tent—kids answer game card questions about behavior, responsibility, sibling rivalry, conflict, and relationships. Along the way, they learn that anger is a natural feeling, neither good nor bad. It’s the way one expresses anger that matters.
Smart and Angry is a therapeutic and educational board game designed to teach young people specific skills that will help them look objectively at anger-provoking situations and react in a thoughtful, assertive, and respectful way. It is not the anger that gets kids in trouble, but rather the actions they take when they are angry, that determine whether they can solve the problem or make things worse. In addition, many people misread situations and become angry when it is inappropriate.
The Positive Ways to Handle Anger Card Game is played like the classic Old Maid card game. There are 20 sets of matching cards that show positive, safe ways to handle angry feelings. Each game includes playing instructions, information about anger and how to use the game as an educational tool.
The Anger IQ game educates players about the hazards of irrational thinking associated with anger, and gives them practice avoiding them by using a set of principles for dealing with anger. Players will translate this rehearsal of responsible decisions made under conditions of anger to the real world. This combined use of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and Social Learning Theory is particularly effective.
This game helps children learn how to stay cool and not blow up when they are angry. The object of the “I Was So Mad” Anger Game is to help children learn positive ways to control and regulate themselves when they are angry.
20. Mad Dragon: An Anger Control Card Game
This fast-paced therapeutic card game helps children control their anger in the moment, practice effective anger management techniques, and understand what anger looks and feels like. Mad Dragon plays like the popular card game Uno.
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For more information on my clinical practice, please visit www.kimscounseling.com.
I meet with a lot of parents who are bringing their child for play therapy, either because they were referred by another child professional, or they just figured they would give it a shot to help them with their child’s behavior. However, most do not really grasp what play therapy means or what a play therapist does with the child. So, what does a play therapist do during a session?
My favorite explanation is to use the image of adult therapy. I call it the “Couch Explanation.”
When you think of an adult getting counseling, you think of someone sitting on a couch, talking to the therapist while they listen to your problems. The counselor may point out patterns they notice in your life, help you reframe certain ideas, reflect your feelings, and even teach you some therapeutic techniques. You would feel you have a a safe place to express yourself, talk about intimate details of your life, and process events that have happened, or are happening, in your life.
When a child comes to play therapy, it is very much the same. Sometimes the child uses words and other times they use play or art to communicate and express thoughts and emotion. Similar to working with adults, the play therapist will reflect the child’s feelings, point out patterns, likes, and dislikes they notice. They may also teach the child techniques to help them identify feelings, cope with their anger, or socialize at school. And most importantly, the play room is set up to be a safe place for the child to express themselves and process various things in their life. For example, a child struggling because their parents divorced and now they are living in a new house and going to a new school will definitely need to process all that has happened in order to move on.
As a Registered Play Therapist, I really believe in the power of play therapy. I have witnessed the benefits and encourage parents to seek out a play therapist if their child is struggling.
Please visit the Association for Play Therapy website for more information on play therapy and Registered Play Therapists!
If you have experience with this as a parent or professional, I would love to hear other explanations you have found helpful!
You may also like: Bringing Back Old Fashioned Play!
Totika is one of my favorite therapy tools to use with clients 7 years and older. I even recommend parents buy this game to play with your family. It is similar to Jenga, except it comes with questions that you answer between each piece that is pulled from the tower. I’m sure my fellow therapists out there are familiar with this one and hopefully they have as much success as I do. It comes with a Self-Esteem Deck of Cards, but you can also buy the Teen-Adult Questions as well.
There are literally thousands of questions, but here are a few of the them just to give you an idea of what to expect:
- If you are feeling unmotivated, who helps you get yourself going?
- If you thought someone was laughing at you, what might you do?
- What might you feel when you make a wise decision?
- If you could get rid of one thing that irritates you, what would it be?
- What might you be able to teach others?
- What would you like to see change for you in the future?
- Who are three of your role models?
- Who notices when you do something well?
- If you had it all to do again, what might you like to know sooner in life?
- What are you doing to live a healthy life?
- If you could be successful at anything, what might you do?
- What are your three highest priorities in life?
- What is the single most important choice you have made?
- How might you describe faith?
- What has brought you immense joy in life?
As you can see, there are a lot of really good questions that encourage thought and self-reflection. This game can be purchased online here. Have fun!