“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 does Kids in Control or Teens in Control help children and youth express their feelings? At the start of a Kids in Control or Teens in Control 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 also provided to kids at the end of the program. This questionnaire serves as a way to help measure how their thinking has changed through the program and how it has helped them build strategies for resilience.

One of the questions the survey asks is:“Are all feelings ok?” Mostly, the kids answer “no” in the questionnaire distributed at the start of the program. Through Kids in Control, they learn that all feelings ARE okay. And through activities and games like Feelings Bingo and Charades, children and youth learn to better understand and accept their feelings. They also gain strategies to help them express their feelings using 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 become more comfortable in 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, how it can take over a person’s thoughts and feelings, and change their behaviours. It also encourages them to ask their own questions and allows them to be able to 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 Tool Boxes

By the end of a Kids in Control program, every participant leaves with their very own personalized Self Care Tool Box. Using sparkles, paint, and clay, participants are able to create a kit that is a collection of self care strategies that works for them. In addition to breathing exercises and a self care plan, these tool boxes include concrete information like emergency contact numbers and safe people to call. Through the program, facilitators help children and youth identify the people in their own lives who they trust and who they are able to turn to for help – this is the information that is then included in each child’s personal Self Care Tool Box.

“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 to work through the class material for that week. Social workers, counsellors, school counsellors, family members, and caregivers are able to 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:

Marla Gonzalez Plasencia
Kids & Teens in Control Manager

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