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  • Lynn Blackbourn, LPC-IT

Using the Circle of Control to Support Your Stressed Out Kiddo

If we remember back to our own childhood, some of us worried…. maybe a little or even a lot! We might have worried about what our friends thought, whether we were the last one to finish a test, tryouts for sports or dance...One thing I wish someone would have shared with me (as a worrier) was the concept that...

There’s NO point in worrying about things you CAN NOT control.

When a child truly grasps this concept, their whole life can change dramatically. They focus more on their own “Circle of Control” versus the many things they can not control. They begin to understand that they cannot control others’ thoughts, behaviors, choices but they CAN control their own thoughts, behaviors, choices. This is a powerful concept and can help kids feel more “in control” during situations when they feel “out of control”. They become empowered and more confident in their own thoughts, caring much less about what OTHER people think and feel.

The Circle of Control concept is especially helpful for children during stressful situations as it helps children identify situations they CAN control versus situations they CAN NOT control.

Kids CAN NOT control the fact that tests and homework will happen.

Kids CAN control how much they study, how much effort they put in, or whether they’ll complete the homework.

Kids CAN NOT control how annoying their sibling might be.

Kids CAN control how they may respond to their sibling.

Here is how to start this with your kiddo, today!

  1. Find a time and place that is typically calm and stress free for your child.

  2. On a large piece of paper draw a large circle, taking up about the top half of the sheet.

  3. In the middle of the circle you can choose to put your child's name, the words "I CAN CONTROL" or something similar.

  4. Explain to your child the concept of "Circle of Control" - that there are many things we CAN control, and many things we CAN NOT and that we need to put our time, energy, and emotions towards the things we CAN control and not to waste them on things we CAN NOT.

  5. Help your child come up with examples of things that can go in the circle, drawing or writing a sentence of picture to indicate that concept. When you child identifies something that CAN NOT be controlled, write/draw that concept on the bottom half OUTSIDE the circle.

  6. Once you have a number of things listed in both areas, hang your Circle of Control in a place that is easily visible so that you can easily reference it with your child throughout the day.

  7. As new concepts arise, add them to your circle (or outside your circle) and remember to review often!

  8. When you believe your child is stressing on a concept that is outside their CIrcle of Control, simply ask, "is that something IN your Circle of Control?" and if they answer NO, then remind them not to spend their time, energy and emotions on it.

This is idea and picture were taking from a great resource for parents!


If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with Lynn, you can reach her


call our intake line: 608-709-6972

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[This article does not create a client-counselor relationship. This article is general counseling information and is not to be considered legal or medical advice. Please consult with your mental health professional before you rely on this information.]

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