Introduce the topic of Self-Regulation / Self Control with Video: Cookie Monster Teacher Self-Regulation
What is the Definition of Self-Regulation?
Self-regulation is the ability to monitor and manage your energy states, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in ways that are acceptable and produce positive results such as well-being, loving relationships, and learning.
It is how we deal with stressors and as such, lays the foundation for all other activity. Developing this ability requires self-awareness, emotional intelligence, efficient filtering of sensory stimulation, Coping effectively with stress, relating well to others, and sustaining focus.
Self-Regulation and Childhood Development
It is one of the big developmental tasks of childhood. Sometimes, kids develop it naturally from being around self-regulating adults, from playing and exercising, from being in nature, eating healthy foods, and getting plenty of sleep.
Other times, however, kids are over-stimulated, around adults who are stressed and/or dys-regulated, and are not getting enough exercise, time outside in nature, sleep, hydration, and healthy food. These kids struggle with attention, learning, impulse control and relationships.
Self-regulation involves the whole person/child
What is self-regulation in terms of the whole person or child? This skill involves much more than simply self control. It involves the whole person including these 4 aspects:
Physical: biology, temperament
Emotional: personality, exposure to trauma, ability to inhibit impulses,
Mental: focus, shift of focus, control, management of distractions & frustration
Social: interpersonal interactions, empathy, values
Executive function and self regulation skills – core capabilities that are developed with practice over time. Examples of executive function skills include impulse control, paying attention, following directions, persistence, and delay of gratification.
- Neurons are rapidly connecting as we interact with the world. Complex circuits are built throughout childhood, and these connections make our core capabilities possible. The more we use these connections, the stronger and faster they become.
- Children practice these skills by playing, learning teamwork, adjusting to the people, rules, and practicing skills; we continue to develop them by managing things like sports, relationships, school, music, work. When we practice EF skills, circuits rapidly connect the Prefrontal Cortex to other parts of the brain. These circuits act like an air traffic control system in the brain, helping us to manage info and help us manage with intention, not on impulse.
- There are also automatic responses that we need for survival, (fight or flight or freeze). If stress is too high or is constant, the automatic circuits become stronger or faster than our more advanced circuits like executive function skills.
- Traumatic and stressful experiences activate other circuits, the ones needed for automatic responses.
- It is extremely hard to call on intentional skills (executive functions) when we are under stress.
- Here is a good 5 min. video on executive function. https://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/video-building-core-capabilities-life/
- The ages of 3 to 5 are a window of time in which tremendous brain and executive functions development occurs
- How do children develop executive function skills?
- Social play
- Changing rules
- Practicing social norms
- Testing skills that parents have been scaffolding for them
- Children have to learn how to play cooperatively. Those who cannot demonstrate sufficient EF competence will be pushed out of play situations, or will cause the play to fall apart.
- Toddlers still engage in parallel play, but during the pre-K years children are gradually developing the skills needed to function in cooperative and social play situations. By age 6 children should have mastered most of these basic skills.
- The executive function skills are some of the same skills needed to master academic tasks as social tasks. So the same children who cannot function in play generally have difficulty being good classroom citizens.
- Social play
- Intentional activities, social play, and teacher-guided activities in which the teacher gradually reduces the amount of support she provides and the child have to engage their executive function skills at higher and higher levels.
Excellent Video on one school’s Sensory Room and how it helps children to calm and self regulate. Meeting children’s Sensory Needs to help them Focus and Learn
If sensory needs are met, they will be better learners.
Available on the NCPMI Website:
Calming Techniques for Children
- Getting started and creating the space
- Tips for using the space:
- Not used as punishment
- Teach how to use the space before meltdown
- Limit interactions and distractions
- Check in with your child
- Talk about the emotions
- Calming Strategies – Calm. Reflect. Reconnect
- Calming Activities – https://challengingbehavior.cbcs.usf.edu/docs/Calm-Down_Poster_EN.pdf
- Self – Regulating – https://challengingbehavior.cbcs.usf.edu/docs/Relaxation-Thermometer.pdf
Story for Teaching Calming – https://challengingbehavior.cbcs.usf.edu/docs/TuckerTurtle_Story.pdf
Games for Teaching Self-Regulation:
Games and Fun Activities
- Red Light Green Light
- Wacky Relay
- Self-Control Bubbles
- Pop then don’t pop bubbles (hold back) learning self control
- Ready, Set, Go!
- Race and substitute a different word for “GO”. Kids need to listen for the word
Research showed that practicing these self-regulation skills improved kids self regulation
Whole-Hearted School Counseling free posters: