Other Tools

Hedonic Scale Cards tool overview

Watch the Hedonic Scale Video

Hedonic Scales are a fancy-sounding name for a simple concept: Tools that allow clients to indicate how they feel about something. You may have seen hedonic scales used with patients in hospitals to convey their pain levels. A very sad face suggests intense pain and a happy face lets hospital staff know the patient is pain free. Now you can use this simple concept to uncover how WIC clients feel about key topics.

The Hedonic Scale tool allows clients to quickly circle emotion-based faces that convey how they feel about a wide variety of topics, such as eating patterns, activity, health and growth. They also allow parents to suggest how they feel about more sensitive topics like food insecurity and their roles as parents.

It takes most parents less than a minute to complete this scale but rich information is provided for the nutritionist to use to move toward a meaningful conversation.

The Hedonic Scale tool can be completed in the waiting room or at the start of nutrition education conversations. As with most tools, probing leads to greater insights.

Feeling Faces Cards

Watch the Feeling Faces Video
Watch the Feeling Faces Group Video

Parenting is a swirl of emotions. Parents feel joy, frustration, worry, sadness and confusion daily, sometimes at the same time. Identifying and understanding client emotions and how they relate to specific behaviors can be the start of a powerful emotion-based conversation.

Feeling Face Cards consists of 15 photos that clearly display these emotions: happiness, sadness, frustration, confusion, anger, surprise, boredom, guilt, confidence, anxiety, disgust, fear, doubtfulness, suspicion and boredom. Educators ask clients to choose a picture that says something about how they feel about a particular topic. (Example: Breastfeeding, weaning, vegetables, pregnancy weight gain, etc.) Because emotions drive behaviors and parents constantly experience feelings about these topics, they will be able to quickly identify a Feeling Face that connects with the stated topic. The educator can then easily initiate an emotion-based conversation based on the client's feeling, or she can probe for more information.

This technique was developed for the Chickasaw Nation WIC program, where it has been used with great success.

Why Feeling Face Cards are an effective tool:

  • Everyone experiences feelings. The Feeling Faces Cards allow the emotions we all feel to come to the surface quickly and easily.
  • Emotions drive behaviors. You are in behavior-change territory when you identify the emotions client are feeling.
  • Talking about feelings allows conversations to become emotion-based. You can always move from emotions to logic but it is difficult to go from logic to emotions without some tools.
  • Talking about emotions can be an unexpected, but welcome surprise for clients. It signals that the conversation will be authentic rather than superficial. Honor that trust by responding in an authentic rather than a role-playing way.
  • Talking about feelings first allows for richer, deeper client responses. They will share a part of themselves and connect with you as a human being rather than a client.

Paint Chips tool

Watch the Paint Chips Video

"Pick a color that says something about how you feel about your child and vegetables." Because this question doesn't have a logical or correct answer, parents project their truth. And their truth is likely wrapped in emotions, allowing you to move easily and quickly to an emotion-based conversation.

This powerful technique starts with a stack of color chips. You can make color cards from card stock or colored paper. Your local paint store may be willing to share paint color chips so you can create your own color chip tool. This small investment of time yields big dividends: creative and fun discussions about parental challenges and successes.

Texture tool

Watch the Texture Bag Video

While some parents may identify with visual metaphors, others may prefer tactile metaphors they can touch and feel. The Texture tool allows parents to connect common challenges with tactile feelings like rough, smooth, rough, bumpy, limp, and scratchy.

You can create your own Texture tool by assembling uniform squares of fabrics in a bag or box. Select fabrics of different textures like velvet, corduroy, denim, silk, burlap, organza, satin, leather, and terry cloth. Non-fabric texture samples like sandpaper, ceramic tile and carpet are also useful additions.

Once assembled, your Texture tool can be used with parents and children over many years to identify feelings related to common challenges. Ask parents to reach in your Texture bag or box and select a fabric that represents who they feel about their child's eating or activity. Once selected, ask the parent to share what that fabric says about their challenge.

Why Feeling Face Cards, the Hedonic Scale, Paint Chips and the Texture tool are effective tools:

  • Everyone experiences feelings. These tools allow emotions to surface quickly and easily.
  • Emotions drive behaviors. You are in behavior change territory when you can identify the emotions clients are currently feeling.
  • Talking about feelings allows conversations to become emotion-based. You can always move from emotions back to logic but it is very difficult to go directly from logic to emotions.
  • Talking about emotions can be an unexpected but welcome surprise for clients. It signals that the conversation will be authentic rather than superficial. You can honor that trust by responding in an authentic rather than role-playing way.
  • Talking about feelings first allows for richer, deeper client responses. They share a part of themselves and connect with you as humans rather than as clients.

Magic Wand

Watch the Magic Wand Video

Magic wands represent power. And what parent wouldn't love to experience the power to change their eating or activity challenges with the mere wave of a wand? The Magic Wand tool allows parents to step out of their daily realities and imagine magical powers. When they use this tool, you will be able to quickly identify change opportunities to discuss during their WIC visit.

Here's how the Magic Wand tools works:

Offer the Magic Wand to the parents, telling the mom that the Magic Wand has the ability to transform everyday eating challenges. As she waves the wand, ask her to tell you about the eating challenges she would change first. Proceed to discuss "magical" actions the mother could take to transform her daily challenges.

Note: You can purchase Magic Wands at your local stores or on the Internet.

Why the Magic Wand is an effective tool:

  • Parents love fun, creative, non-traditional questions.
  • Because parents don't know the correct responses, they are likely to share truthful answers.
  • Older children can use the Magic Wand to share responses too. Restless children will likely welcome the opportunity to "wave the magic wand" and make their favorite foods appear or make less-loved foods disappear. This information can be used during the WIC conversation.