Teacher’s Tips on Child Self-regulation


Self-regulation can be defined as the ability to monitor and manage emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Moreover, the ability to self-regulate helps children focus on tasks, follow instructions and control impulses. The two most common patterns of teen and child self-regulation are that they become over-stressed (hyper-aroused), overactive, moving around consistently and may seek attention inappropriately or (hypo-aroused), shutting down interactions, running away from the stressor. Helping children succeed in school starts well before they get there. Also, School readiness and a successful transition to kindergarten play a big role in children’s later school success.

Children who are having difficulty with self-regulation may:

  • Act overly silly or “out of control”
  • Have tantrums or meltdowns
  • Struggle with transitions between different environments/activities e.g. Home and School and classroom activities.
  • Have difficulty waiting or taking turns
  • Struggle with being in close proximity to others
  • Demonstrate problems during social interactions (talking too loud, standing too close, touching others, covering ears, running away).
  • Have difficulty walking or waiting in line.
  • Move too quickly or with too much force.
  • Grab or touch objects impulsively.
Teacher’s Tips for managing the classroom environment should include:
  • Having an awareness of the child’s need/interests
  • Make the classroom environment a calming space for all children
  • Allow the child time to orientate himself/herself to their preferred space
  • Allow movement breaks

Some teachers report that child self-regulation skills are more important than academics. It is key to school readiness that supports children’s ability to be successful in both academic and social situations.

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