“This program was very valuable. My daughter came out of her shell and talked about things. This was a unique program like no other. She said she was in a safe place and could be herself.” 

– Parent of Kids in Control participant

So how do the Kids in Control (KIC)and Teens in Control (TIC) programs help children and youth express their feelings? At the start of a KIC or TIC course, a questionnaire is given to the kids to determine what they already know or think about mental illness as they come into the group. The same questionnaire is then provided again at the end of the program. This serves as a way to measure how their thinking has changed through the program and how KIC and TIC has helped them build strategies for resilience.

One of the questions the survey asks is: “Are all feelings okay?” Kids mostly answer “no” in the questionnaire distributed at the start of the program. But through activities and games like Feelings Bingo and Charades in the Kids in Control program, youth learn that all feelings ARE okay and how to better understand and accept those feelings. They also gain strategies to help them express their feelings through compassionate communication.

With the aid of puppets, every member of the group is also able to express their feelings by sharing a “warm fuzzy” and a “cold prickly”. This weekly practice of talking about something great and something not so great that happened during the week helps them be comfortable expressing and understanding their feelings.

“I had a Black Dog, his name was Depression”

Videos like this help children in the group better understand depression and how it can take over a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. It also encourages them to ask their own questions and talk about depression with their loved ones.

“I loved that my child learned to communicate with me. She would ask if the “Black Dog” was here. She even took her self-care toolbox to school and educated her classroom about what she learned. I can’t thank you enough!”

– Parent of Kids in Control participant

One participant was able to use this learning to understand that her parent had depression while they were camping. She then explained that she was able to have compassion for her parent and said, “Oh, Mommy, I’m sorry you’re feeling that way.”

Building Self-Care Toolboxes

By the end of a Kids in Control program, every participant leaves with their very own personalized Self-Care Toolbox. With sparkles, paint, and clay, participants create a kit with a collection of self-care strategies that work for them. These toolboxes include concrete information like emergency contact numbers and safe people to call alongside breathing exercises and a self-care plan.

Through the program, facilitators help children and youth identify the people in their own lives whom they trust and can turn to for help—information which is then included in each child’s personal Self-Care Toolbox.

“My son learned how to cope with his feelings. He felt really safe for the first time in awhile. He loved his calming jar and he really loved the teachers. I highly recommend this program to anyone in the same situation.”

Parent of Kids in Control participant

How to Register for Kids in Control

Each Kids in Control and Teens in Control program runs for eight consecutive weeks. Each week, up to 10 participants gather for 2 hours at a time to work through that week’s material. Social workers, counsellors, school counsellors, family members, and caregivers can refer a child or youth to the program, and referrals can be made throughout the year.

For more information about Kids in Control and Teens in Control, please contact:

Written by: Shelley Jensen, Kids & Teens in Control Coordinator/Facilitator