What Is an Energy Dial…And Why is There a Lizard on It?

He is forever adrift within his dreams. (Told to Mrs. Einstein by one of Albert’s teachers)

“Grace, what level is your energy level right now?” I asked.  “I’m on lizard,” answered Grace. I look at her with a smile and ask if that is a good level to be on when we are working in the office.  Grace looks up and to the left to assess her imaginary dial. She then returns her gaze to me and says, “Yes, I think so.”

girl with clock

Grace is only six years old.  She has the imagination of a thousand authors and the curiosity of Albert Einstein.  When we first met she played with the contents of my table display, oblivious to what was going on around her, ‘forever adrift within her dreams’, just like a little Einstein.  But now, with a few simple tools, Grace brings herself into ready-mode for learning new information – she is focused and ready.

In my office, we empower individuals with self-regulatory tools. These tools enable them to control their focus, their stress and anxiety, and their internal energy level.  All of us are used to assessing our internal energy and doing ‘something’ to change it if we need to.  For example, what do you do when you feel sluggish? Drink coffee, do some jumping jacks, throw cold water on your face or maybe you turn the music up in the car. How about when you feel hyper or wired? Maybe you take some deep breaths, go burn off some energy or drink a cup of chamomile tea.

Well, Grace now has an energy dial that she created with her imagination.  This dial reads and adjusts her internal energy level.  We usually guide a client through creating a dial that has numerals on it (usually 1-10) but Grace was different.  When she used numerals on her dial, she confused it with time and quantities. So, we decided that we would use animals or things instead.

Grace determined that at her lowest energy level she had the energy of a snail and that at her highest level she had the energy of a stealth bomber flying (she had seen one at an airshow and it had left a lasting impression).

So where does a lizard fall on her dial? Around a four. When Grace has the energy level of a lizard, she is able to sit and work on the task at hand, albeit not for too long, but for long enough to bring in new information. (Remember, she is only six years old).

Grace represents so many of these new types of kiddos I see in my office.  They are not broken.  They do not need to be fixed.  They definitely don’t need to fall in line with the status quo. They need to express who they are here to be in all their amazing glory.  

We (the grown-ups) can help them.

We can support them.

We can encourage them.

We can guide them.

We can empower them.

We can help them find their own energy dials.

Instead of telling your child to calm down, or chill-out, help them create their own energy dial. More importantly, create your own dial, and use it before you enter into your child’s space.  You will find yourself more patient, more tolerant, and more joyful.

Enjoy your new tool.

To see an example of Dr. Angie’s Dial, checkout this video


  1. Ricky Harris on August 4, 2016 at 4:35 am

    I agree Dr. Angie, instead of telling our kiddos to calm down, or chill-out, have them create their own energy dial. One neat thing about this exercise is that it can highlight what your child is attracted to. Identifying curiosity early on is an invaluable tool in helping your child navigate their career later on in life. Who knows, perhaps Grace will become a successful Veterinary Surgeon… She certainly has some interest in animals. It’s so amazing how much a child can reveal if we only learn how to listen.

    Great story. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • drangie on September 29, 2016 at 5:30 pm

      I love your insight. Listening is an art. Listening means giving that other person (adult or child) your full attention – not thinking about what you are going to say next. When we LISTEN to our children and honor what they are saying, we learn so much. Thank you for your comments.

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