My Levels of Like: Breaking Rigid Thinking & Encouraging Problem Solving

Let’s be honest, all of us have used “I hate…” before.  We have all become so stuck in a specific mindset about an activity, person, problem, that we cannot see it any other way.  It’s black or white and it’s never going to change.  The issue with this is it stifles our ability to make positive change, seek support, or set a boundary.  One tool I was introduced to via Social Thinking is the “Level of Like Scale”.  It has become one of my favorite tools in working with clients who present difficulties with flexible thinking, social cognition, and executive functioning.  Moreover, it has also become a tool I utilize for myself, and once my daughter is older, I will utilize as a parent.

I recently had a client who insisted to me that they hated ALL MATH.  Which is why they were bored and decided to “opt out” their attention. Now, there’s multiple issues with this, some of which are now embedded in our culture.  In a changing social world where everything is instant gratification or entertainment boredom has practically become extinct!  Working through things (or a bored moment) has almost become irrelevant.  Why spend time researching online or in a book when you can simply ask Alexa?  Who is guilty of scrolling through their phones while “watching” a show or movie?  Our minds literally have whatever distraction they want AT THEIR FINGER TIPS. So, we are in a time where it’s becoming increasingly important to TEACH bored moments, problem solving, and flexible mindset.

When my client said they hated all Math I knew it was a great opportunity to work with “The Levels of Like”.  We laid the cards out in a line from “Hate It…Really Dislike It…Dislike It…Like It…Really Like It…Love It”.  Before broaching the topic of Math, I wanted to direct them to the variations of these levels.  So, we started with foods.  At first, they either hated or loved them, and nothing in between.  But, with discussion about which foods they could eat all day, which foods they could tolerate, which foods might make them vomit (for me Jello!)  We worked out how most things in life fall on a scale, and it’s pretty much never fixed!


Next, we got into it. MATH.  However, we used Math as the UMBRELLA CONCEPT!  Math is a subject that can be broken into many components. For example, using a calculator is a PART of Math.  We found out that my client actually “liked” using a calculator.  They also “really liked” manipulatives in Math.  They really disliked “math lecture” and “math word problems”.  The greatest thing about this information was that it gave us VALUABLE information into the client’s learning style and struggles.  So now instead of just trying to help them work through not “hating math” we could target tangible areas.  Making math lectures more interactive for them.  Finding appropriate times where calculators could be used. Requesting help from a teacher or peer or requesting more time with manipulatives.  Targeting how to best work through word problems.  In short, IT OPENS DOORS IN THE MIND TO SOLVING PROBLEMS RATHER THAN LIVING IN THEM!  

As an adult I have used the scale as a reflection tool for:

  1. Partner communication styles
  2. Household Chores
  3. Parenting Boundaries
  4. Household Schedules/ To Do Lists 
  5. Expectations of Myself and Others 
  6. Work and Home Relationships 
  7. Self-Care Strategies 

For example, if I am consistently thinking I feel overwhelmed by household chores.  How can I break this down?  Which do I “hate”? “Which do I “like”?  Where could I find support?  Which could I “let go” of every now and again?  What invokes balance within me in this area?  What are some potential solutions or strategies I could attempt?

Finding fault on external factors consistently only robs me of the opportunities to grow.  If I can’t look within myself or REACH OUT to try to find balance, resilience, or solutions I am really only limiting opportunities and remaining FIXED…in a mindset…that keeps me bored and unhappy.  I would personally rather live elsewhere.

Where can you practice your levels?  Where can you teach them as well?

Published by Sarah Ott

I am a Full Time Mom and Part Time Speech and Language Pathologist. Becoming a Mom has brought me to to numerous new life lessons, including balancing self-care with caring for my family, fulfilling my professional goals in new ways, and striving to raise good humans! This page is a space to share my own experiences, successes, and failures, hopefully create a positive space for others to join, and invite you to join me in pursuing happiness in whatever life journey you are on. Our children are our greatest teachers, and looking for us to teach them in return.

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