Helping Your Students Regulate Their Emotions

Hi again teachers,

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Earlier this month we talked about the kids in your class that through a series of events have taken on the title "troublemaker." If you haven't read that blog yet, you can find it here.

Today I wanted to discuss strategies you can use to help the students in your classroom who struggle with emotional regulation. A lot of the time, these students are the same ones as mentioned above. School is hard, there might be underlying struggles, and they need support as they learn effective and appropriate ways to communicate their feelings with the world.

We know that explicit instruction helps our students, but far too often we rely on them "picking up" on appropriate behaviors and other executive functions. Emotional regulation is one of those things.

When you have a classroom of 30 students, one tantrum can derail the entire class. It is important to help your students learn productive ways of dealing with their feelings before they reach that level.

The first step is helping them name their feelings. Younger students, and those who struggle with communication might have a hard time with this. It can be overwhelming and even scary for a child who feels like all of their emotions are bubbling up and getting ready to spill out, and yet, they can't name what is happening. By giving their emotion a name, you are validating it, and taking the first step to reassuring them that everything will be okay.

The second step is to help them learn to communicate their feelings appropriately. Help your students by providing them with strategies for how they can tell you they need a break. These can be colored cards, feeling wheels, etc. Help them learn how to use whichever strategy you pick, and then hold them accountable for using it.

The last step is helping them learn productive ways to regulate their emotions. Depending on the child and the situation, these strategies will vary. Some common ones are deep breathing and sensory bottles. For bigger feelings, the student may need to take a walk, go to the counselors office or another safe and quiet space, or go to a sensory room (if your school offers one).

As critical as these skills are for students, we recognize that as teachers you have a lot on your plate and quite a bit to juggle already. We encourage you to reach out to the School Psychologist and enlist his or her help, especially if you have a student who will need the additional support or would benefit from leaving the room to cool off.

We hope that this and the other Executive Functioning information throughout this past month has been helpful. We love our teachers and want to support you in the best possible ways. If you have questions, please reach out and let us know! You can join our Facebook Page and connect with us and other teachers here.

Keep up the great work! If you are already looking for additional resources and reading blogs, you are on the right path.

-The Smart ALEC Team