Emotional Regulation for Students

Emotional Regulation Activities for Tweens and Teens

The ability to keep one’s emotions in check can be particularly difficult for preteens, adolescents, and even some adults. At this stage in their development, individuals may show signs of social and emotional changes that may have an effect on their capacity to emotionally control themselves in the context of school, as well as on their grades, their ability to carry out executive functions, and their overall health. When physical, intellectual, social, and peer pressures and swings all build up, many preteens, adolescents, and young adults suffer to the point that they can feel as though they have no control over their lives.

Students are better able to take control of difficult and overwhelming feelings when they have access to stabilising coping strategies and self-regulating tools. They have shown to be quite effective every time I put them to use in my practise.


Before you offer new tactics to children who need to work on social and emotional regulation, it is important to keep in mind that these strategies operate best when they are embedded inside a stable and consistent framework:

Make different options available to the students. Stress the fact that individuals are free to select the tools that are most beneficial to them. Reinforce the fact that they have control, which is a form of regulation in and of itself.
Your consistent use of these strategies throughout the day, particularly when you are experiencing emotional dysregulation, will demonstrate to your students that it is not only acceptable to experience difficult emotions, but that there are also actionable steps that can be taken to manage them. This will allow you to better meet the needs of your students.
Make a connection between the utilisation of these services and being a successful adult. For instance, you may say to your pupils, “Just like kids, grownups frequently experience difficult emotions such as irritation, grief, concern, and rage throughout the course of their everyday lives.” In addition to this, they are responsible for balancing their work, family, and financial responsibilities simultaneously. You’ll have a better chance of being successful as an adult if you learn how to handle challenging emotions and take responsibility for yourself right now.
Maintain a location in your classroom where students can easily see and access the following tactics so that they may make use of them at a glance (and build a community of understanding around the importance of emotional regulation).


When children are feeling emotionally dysregulated, this is a wonderful method to adopt since it helps provide oxygen to the brain, which in turn can assist students in thinking more clearly and making decisions that are in their best interests. (It’s also soothing for children as they get ready for bed.) By stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system through the use of a variation on deep breathing known as bubble breaths, one can reduce the intensity of responses such as fight or flight that are activated by the sympathetic nervous system.

Instructions to be followed by students:

Hold your breath for four seconds while breathing in slowly through your nose, and then breathe out slowly and deliberately through your mouth for six seconds. (It is important to hold the breath during inhalation for a greater duration than the breath during exhalation.)

Repeat the process, and pay attention to how you are feeling with each inhalation.


Students will first isolate distinct muscles in their bodies, and then tense and relax those muscles as part of this activity. When adolescents and preteens are experiencing feelings of emotional dysregulation, progressive muscle relaxation might be helpful because it provides the body with information about its location in space. It is an excellent method for reducing stress and has also been demonstrated to be effective in treating rage and hostility in male adolescents.

Instructions to be followed by students:

Put a name to your emotions and try to carry them on your shoulders. Pull their muscles. After maintaining the position for the whole five seconds, you can relax.

Repeat steps one through three for the knees, wrists, fingers, ankles, and toes. It is expected that the feelings will either become less overwhelming or completely vanish.


Writing down positive affirmations about one’s basic personal values and positive traits has been shown to boost self-esteem, executive function, and inhibitory control, according to research. [Citation needed] [Citation needed] When children write out their accomplishments and qualities that they are good at, it gives them a confidence boost and can help them get through a challenging day.

Instructions to be followed by students:

Think of ten characteristics that best describe you and that set you apart from other people. Take your time. Put your list into writing.

Place the list in an area where you will be able to view it frequently, such as next to your bed or tacked up in your place of business.


When strong feelings such as anger, grief, or anxiety surface in the classroom, children can find refuge in a “cool-down area,” which is typically incorporated into the design of trauma-informed classrooms. It is a dedicated space for practising emotional-regulation skills in the classroom, rather than in isolation, and it strengthens the educator-student relationship by communicating to the students that no matter what, they belong in the classroom community. In addition, it is a space that can be used to practise emotional-regulation skills in the classroom. Dim lighting, an MP3 player loaded with calming music, headphones, stress balls, pencils and paper, affirmations lists, and even scents like vanilla and lavender can be included in the cool-down area’s amenities.

It is sometimes helpful to invite the student to request their own calm-down location, then to supply it with objects they chose, including images of family and friends, and to name it themselves, such as “The Chill Zone” or “My Calm Spot.”

Use the following questions to help guide your students:

Which instruments or items that make you feel happy, tranquil, and safe would you like to have in the room designated for cooling off and relaxing? To ensure that everyone uses this area appropriately and securely, what ground rules should we establish?

When you initially start to feel emotions that you might not be able to manage, you can always use this as a safe place to go to get some perspective. Don’t hold off until they become uncomfortable in their skin.


As an alternative to a stress ball, you might like to try a scrunchie, a rubber band, or a bracelet with a loose key ring. They are not as distracting, they can be moved around, and they don’t draw attention to themselves. The act of physically pulling or squeezing the material of the fidget helps release pent-up sensations while at the same time expelling excess energy. This can be a useful outlet for people who have trouble expressing their emotions.

Instructions to be followed by students:

Visualize where the feelings are located in your body, label them, and then place them into the wearable fidget so you can have more control over them.

When you’re feeling emotional, rock the fidget back and forth between your hands. Imagine that your emotions are being sucked away with each tug.


Positive affirmations have been found to increase executive function skills such as working memory. However, self-talk is a challenging activity that demands a lot of mental effort and energy, as well as practise.

The following are some easy-to-follow directions for positive self-talk: Tell your pupils that if they have a negative thinking about themselves, they can replace it with an affirmation such as “I am a wonderful person, regardless of what anyone says or does,” and that they should do this whenever they have a negative idea about themselves. Remind them that just like any other behaviour, positive self-talk may become a habit if it is practised regularly in the same way.