In every classroom there are students with anxiety. Counselors and teachers can support these students with a simple school-based intervention that will take them step by step through managing their worries. Students will learn how to create a plan for recognizing their anxious thoughts and challenging them.
Hello KICK Plans
KICK stands for four steps: Knowing I'm Nervous, Icky Thoughts, Calm Thoughts, Keep Practicing. In this 4-step process, students learn to recognize negative feelings and the negative thoughts that are influencing those feelings. Then they identify an alternative thought that would help them feel calm. Last, they keep practicing identifying alternative thoughts.
KICK Plans are ideal for counseling interventions for anxiety, but can easily be used by classroom teachers or parents.
Using KICK Plans
KICK plans are a step by step process to help upper elementary and middle school students reframe their negative thinking.
- Knowing I’m Nervous - recognize that they are feeling nervous, worried, or some other negative emotion.
- Icky Thoughts - Identify the negative thought they are having that may be causing or influencing their feelings.
- Calm Thoughts - Identify an alternative thought that is more realistic or more positive.
- Keep Practicing - Practice identifying negative thoughts and finding alternatives.
Knowing I'm Nervous
First, students recognize that they are feeling nervous, worried, or some other negative emotion. There are a few ways to do this.
- Recognizing the physical feelings that come with feeling nervous. Maybe their stomach hurts or their body is tense.
- Identify the feeling on a feelings chart.
- Identify the intensity of the feeling using a feelings thermometer. Are they nervous or terrified or a little worried?
Second, they identify the negative thought they are having that may be causing or influencing their feelings. This can be done by simply writing down the thoughts they are having.
You can also get more specific and identify the type of negative thought.
Before moving onto the next step, students can write down the evidence they have for each thought. This may help confirm for them that these are negative thoughts. Try one of these Checking the Facts strategies:
- Be a Detective - What facts tell me this thought is true? What facts tell me this thought is false?
- Really? - Am I using words like always and never? Flip the thought, and ask “Never?” or “Always?”.
- Rewind - Ask myself “What thought did I just have? Where did that come from?”
Third, they identify an alternative thought that is more realistic or more positive. Have students imagine another way to look at the situation or think about how someone else might look at the situation.
Last, keep practicing identifying negative thoughts and finding alternatives.
If you have a student that is working on challenging negative thinking, try starting each session with a reframing activity. Continuous practice with positive thinking will turn this skill into a habit.
Other CBT Interventions
Are you curious about using more cognitive behavioral techniques in your school counseling interventions? Check out these posts:
CBT Bundle for School Counseling
Hands-on and digital cognitive behavioral therapy CBT activities for kids to help them understand their feelings, thoughts, and actions.
Challenging Negative Thinking Resources
Help students with automatic negative thoughts identify them, find strategies to challenge them, and create positive replacement thoughts.