About Me

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and former school-based therapist - turned full time mama. I thrive on helping others improve their lives! This blog includes information about products that I've found helpful on my journey as a mama from from personal experience and trial and error. My hope is that it's helpful to you!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Feelings Parking Lot

Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted on here! I think I might have discovered Pinterest about a year ago and it was an easier way to organize and find ideas, so I've been pinning away over there! I highly recommend using it as a GREAT resource for ideas for work with your clients!

I used to have one board for all therapeutic intervention ideas, but I have since organized them into various boards. You can see all of them at pinterest.com/carlycollins

Speaking of Pinterest, that's where the idea came from that I'm sharing today: I saw an idea for teaching children vocabulary words, and I modified it for feelings and coping strategies (adapted from this original idea from Juggling With Kids Blog.

I called my version the Feelings and Coping Parking Lot. 
Feelings Parking Lot. Photo Credit: Carly Collins

Materials needed:
Poster board (or tape 4 pieces of paper together)
Toy cars

Here's what you do:

-If you have it, a piece of poster board would probably work best (I only had lined paper taped together, you have to be flexible and creative as a field-based clinician!)

-Create 'parking spots' large enough for toy cars to fit in by drawing them on the board

-Have the child identify various difficult emotions they experience and write them in parking spaces on one side of the 'parking lot'

-write various coping strategies you would like to teach the child or review with the child in the other parking spaces on the opposite side

-give the child a scenario that they must identify an emotion. For example, "How would you feel if someone broke your favorite toy?"

-ask the child to "park" their car in the feeling they would experience (drawing feeling faces along with the words can help with smaller children)

-if you want, you can use this time to discuss this feeling, have them make a face to show the feeling, etc

-next have the child take that same car, or another car if you have more than one, and ask them to choose a coping skill they would use to manage that feeling, or one they would like to learn, and park their car there

-once they choose one by parking, practice that coping strategy

-continue until all emotions and skills have been identified

My kiddos love this activity, and it's a creative way to practice identifying emotions and coping skills! 

I'd love to hear if you try this and how it goes!

*apologies for any typos or weird words, I typed this using my phone and hopefully caught all of the autocorrects! ;)


  1. You inspired me to make one for my sessions tomorrow! Excited to see how it goes :)

  2. I LOVE this idea and can't wait to try it with my kiddos in a conflict resolution setting. On a side note, from one blogger to another... I think your site is hacked. When I first visited I was redirected to a page telling me to update java with a weird popup. Upon closing the java popup window I was sent to a number of other sites (care.com and an online gaming site). I've got screenshots if you'd like me to email them over.

  3. Hi Talina,
    Thanks for the positive feedback! I hope that the feelings parking lot works well for conflict resolution! Thanks also for the heads up about the redirects on the blog. I have no idea why that's happening and will have to figure it out! I got that same java popup when viewing the blog through my PC on Internet Explorer. I'll try to get to the bottom of it.

  4. I saw this activity and loved it! I have been using it with a 9 year old client who has a lot of confusing feelings related to his dad being in jail. This has been great for getting him to sort out, identify, and describe each feeling. It gives me the opportunity to teach him different coping skills and he loves driving his car to whatever we're learning. We have been taking a picture of his car in its parking space each time he has mastered a skill, so the end result will be a picture of all his skills with parked cars that he can take home and hang up in his bedroom to show how much he has learned! Thanks for the great idea!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing how it's helping, makes me so happy to hear! My heart goes out to your client.

  5. This is a great idea. I laminated my parking lot so we can write ideas and erase and reuse. I was thinking that I might only have enough cars for one side and then they can be moved from one side to the other. Thanks for a fun intervention.

    1. It always brings a smile to my face to hear how people are using this idea and making it their own! Thanks for sharing your experience!

  6. I am in the process of compiling my first roundup post on anger management activities for kids. I saw your post and loved the idea. May I use it for my roundup post. I might pull up some pictures from the posts. But I will credit your work and provide a link back to your website

  7. Handling Emotions - Empower kids for better tomorrow

    Handling Emotions-Empower kids for better tomorrow is a program that has the capacity to bring best of mental health of your child.

    must read : Handling Emotions

  8. What an adorable idea! I can't wait to try this out next school year!