Emotional Thermometers for Aggression

Emotional thermometers are a popular cognitive behavioral intervention for children and adolescents. It is often used to promote self-awareness and the healthy expression of emotions. Watch the video for step by step instructions, and read below to see how to use this CBT tool through a drama therapy lens!


After completing their thermometer, I often ask the child to teach it back to me and then to their caregivers. I often do this in the next session. After the child explains their thermometer to their caregiver, I will ask caregiver if they can add anything to their child’s scale, such as physical behaviors that the child may not be aware of. Having the caregiver add input to the child’s visual warning signs of increasing anger allows the child increased insight into their aggression.

How to Keep the Intervention Going:

  • Monster Puppets: Cast each level of emotion as an anger monster. Design the monsters on thick construction paper to glue together to make finger puppets.
  • Charades: I feel like this speaks for itself, but draw the emotion out of a cup and act it out! For added difficulty, just write the number on paper and have the guesser(s) guess the name of the emotion that correlates with the number.
  • Scenario Role Play: Act out imaginary scenarios in which you might feel the emotion. What is one way you would normally react? What’s an alternative option that might have a better ending?
  • Coping Skills Dice- Create paper dice with various coping skills. Can’t decide what to do to calm down? Roll the dice.

While this activity should be facilitated by the therapist, it is essential that the child leads at their own pace. The child should have full autonomy to label their level of anger, their emotions, thoughts, and their behaviors related to anger.

Interested in building an emotional thermometer for anxiety? Click here!


WARNING: Please use intervention with caution. Facilitators of emotional thermometers should be mental health professionals who have received the mandatory training and credentialing to provide mental health treatment.

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