Teaching Self Regulation

How to Teach Self-Regulation

Many kids join our classrooms with psychological and learning challenges, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or even unfavourable childhood events and trauma, which impair their executive functioning and capacity to manage their emotions. These students do not have the tools they need to concentrate and pay attention, to keep their emotions under control, to adapt when things change, or to deal with the frustration that can come from interacting with people or learning something completely new.

It can be quite difficult to perform needed duties in the classroom as a result of this. Working as a special education teacher in a middle school, I immediately realised that the most important thing I could do to help these students learn was to work on building their self-regulation abilities first.

As a novice teacher, you may also find it difficult to teach kids how to regulate their emotions effectively. These are some tactics that I found to be effective.


In order to help model and teach self-regulation, teachers can set up their classrooms to give the structure and learning resources that are necessary to do so.

Creating a pleasant environment in the classroom: The classroom should feel like a safe location where students’ strengths are highlighted. When a negative behaviour arises, try not to take it personally and avoid correcting the child in front of other people as quickly as possible. Instead, take on the role of an observer with the purpose of determining why the behaviour is taking place. After the youngster has had a chance to calm down, address the behaviour.
Expectations are crystal clear: Schedules, protocols, and a well-established routine assist children in understanding what is expected of them and help to create an environment that is structured and safe for them.
Instruction on how to improve your study skills: When it comes to curriculum, teachers tend to focus on the content. However, in order to access the content, students must have skills such as the ability to organise their materials, manage their time, stay on task, read with comprehension, and retain and practise what they have learned for later use on graded activities. Teaching study skills to the entire class will assist all students become more self-sufficient learners in their studies.
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Student disengagement, even complete shutdown and refusal to complete work, might be caused by the fact that the work is too difficult for them and they are becoming frustrated with the situation. In my research, I discovered that students frequently engage in this behaviour because it has worked for them in the past by helping them to escape an unwelcome task and avoid the embarrassment of appearing “stupid,” among other benefits. Instead of acknowledging that they are frustrated with the work, the student will frequently express their dissatisfaction with the teacher for requiring them to complete the project in the first place.

Scaffolding is the process of breaking down learning into manageable chunks and then offering a technique or a structure to make it easier for pupils to complete each chunk of learning successfully. In order to properly scaffold education, it is necessary to understand what a youngster is capable of achieving on his or her own. When it comes to instruction, the “zone of proximal development” (ZPD) is the difference between what a student can achieve on their own and what they can do with knowledgeable support.

Starting your training at this point allows the student to more readily progress to the next logical phase in their development. Taking a break, identifying what they do understand, and then changing the assignment such that it is within their zone of proficiency (ZPD) can usually assist a child in getting started.


In order to modify their conduct, children require objective, nonjudgmental input from adults. When an issue emerges, find a quiet moment to talk about what went wrong, why it happened, and how it may be handled differently the next time it happens again. This provides kids who do not have have a structure and the terminology necessary to regulate their emotions with actionable guidelines.

The teacher may also suggest that a student who is comfortable with the method decompress by reflecting on their own, either verbally or through a written task, before speaking with the teacher. Reflecting helps students become more mindful: rather than simply responding to their emotions, they can learn to manage their emotions by identifying what they are feeling before it manifests itself in a physical action.


It is often the case that direct instruction is the most effective method of teaching students how to accomplish something. The same is true when it comes to behaviour. If pupils are not exhibiting productive behaviour, the teacher can demonstrate what productive behaviour would look like by engaging in modelling activities such as “think alouds” or role-playing sessions with them.

Set aside a period of time for children to practise new actions they are learning in a low-stakes environment that breaks down the desired behaviour into manageable steps. With the help of a visual and auditory cue, I tried strengthening transitions with students while working as a classroom teacher (flicking the lights and clapping my hands). Students were aware that they needed to put down what they were doing and return to their seats. At first, I gave them many minutes to do this task and praised pupils who remained in their seats, even if they were a little boisterous on their way to their seats. Students who were sitting calmly and attentively listening for orders, with their materials out and ready to work, were the only ones who received prizes when the time allotted decreased gradually.

I discovered that looking about behaviour objectively, as a skill to be taught rather than just as good or evil, made it much easier for me to guide children through the process of learning to regulate their own actions and behaviour. There are certain youngsters who begin school lacking the self-regulation skills that are required for academic achievement. We must meet these students where they are and teach them the skills they require in order to be successful in the educational setting.