In the second step of the CBT ABC exercise, work with your child to figure out what he or she did the last time they were feeling that way. What exactly did they do (scream at someone, stomp out of the room, locked themselves up, snuck out to smoke or had a drink, refused to do something, etc.)? Did they say something? To whom did they say it? Again, be specific, and clarify anything that lacks understanding. Use the sheet provided to write down the answers.
Download and print worksheet here: What did I do when I felt bad?
One of the important questions to ask oneself in an unpleasant experience is how did my body feel? Did I feel bad or different in certain places at the time? These can be any sensations of pain or discomfort that you notice or your child is aware of. Noticing these signs are important for two reasons.
Firstly, noticing similar feelings could warn you of a potential problem. Then, you can quickly check your thoughts and do things to relax, or change the situation, or the way you would normally have behaved. You will be taught many of these techniques throughout the program.
Secondly, these sensations are there to make you feel stressed and uncomfortable so that you can take some action that is not necessarily appropriate. Instead, you can take a deep breath and relieve these symptoms of distress (wiping your sweaty hands and face, take something for a headache or stomach pain, stretch tense muscles, etc.). When the discomfort is gone, your negative thoughts and feelings will likely return to normal as well.
Use the worksheet provided and mark the places on your body that felt bad or different the previous time you were upset. Make short notes, in a few words, describing how each felt.
Download and print worksheet: Where on my body did I feel bad when I was upset?
What comes next?
There are two steps after one understands and recognizes unpleasant thoughts and feelings to prevent or deal with them. The first step is to relax more and reduce the stress in your life. This is what we will look at in the next session—making time and using different techniques to relax. The second step is to explore negative thoughts and turn them into positive ones. This is the topic of the fourth session.