Counting In Categories

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Counting in Categories

This is a simple but challenging exercise which can effectively distract an individual from negative thoughts, emotions and anxieties. It can be very useful to begin this game whilst waiting for a situation that can be stressful e.g. before visiting the dentist or an interview.

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What do I need to do?

Think of a category (group of things) such as vegetables
Now try and think of as many vegetables as you can
When you get stuck and you really can't think of any more try a different category
Repeat with a new category as many times as you need to

How do I know if I'm doing it right?

It will become harder to think of things
You are focussing on thinking about things and nothing else
If you make a mistake just carry on

What else can help?

You might want to practise this so you remember what to do
Have fun by practising with a friend
Some people like to write things down - try this if it helps

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Examples of possible categories to try and count:

colours
car makes
square numbers
dinosaurs
authors
superheroes
animals
trees
actors
pop bands
things found in a bedroom
things found in a classroom
types of transport
Harry Potter characters

Choose categories based on the child's age, ability and interests. These topics and further suggestions are available on printable resource cards below.

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Extension

The purpose of this counting exercise is to tax the brain and increase the cognitive load so that anxious thoughts can no longer be processed. In simpler terms, the task needs to fully distract their attention and focus from the potential or existing cause of anxiety or fear. A way of making this more effective is to give additional physical challenges to perform. For example, recalling all the superheroes they can think of whilst standing on one leg. The more demanding the physical task the more processing is required. However, hopping on one leg, for example, is not alway an appropriate thing to do in many contexts and something more subtle may be required. Tapping a foot or repeated touching each finger with the thumb of the same hand in turn can be enough to just add that extra level of demand.

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Resources

Counting in Categories

Self-Calming Strategies - Counting in Categories

The above instructions in a print ready format.

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Counting in Categories Cards

Counting in Categories Cards

1 instruction card and 35 topic cards to help the child find categories to think about. Create a small pack of cards by selecting those categories most suited to the child's age, ability and interests.

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Blank Counting in Categories Cards

Blank Counting in Categories Cards

Use this resource sheet to quickly create your own topic cards to support the child with categories to think about. Create a small pack of cards by writing categories based on the child's age, ability and interests.

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Counting in Categories Physical Challenge Cards

Counting in Categories Physical Challenges Cards

Use this resource sheet to quickly create your own topic cards to support the child with categories to think about. Create a small pack of cards by writing categories based on the child's age, ability and interests.

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You may also be interested in the following pages:

Counting With Senses

Emotional Regulation

Rating Scales

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