Self-Regulation: Reset

There are so many different strategies and activities that may or may not work for your class. Of course, one of the joys of being a teacher is to make sure your bag of tricks is fully stocked because of the variety of classes come across. I was curious and thought it would be  useful to know how to set a student up for success after a tantrum. I stumbled upon some activities to do after a student threw a tantrum to “reset”. These reset activities help students successfully regain their independence in a calm way. These activities sooth the student by giving them a task that constructive and soothes their hands. At first it didn’t make sense to me, and then I thought about the little activities that adults do to calm themselves down that involves their hands such as squeezing,  knitting, sewing, playing cards, gardening. When a student has an aggressive outburst and may display signs of dangerous behavior it is important for the teacher to analyze the situation in which is it safer to move the child to a quiet area, or to remove the other students from the classroom. Reset activities are to be used AFTER the student has calmed down or AFTER the situation as deescalated. Keep in mind these activities may not work for every particular incident or tantrum.

A few guidelines to follow and think about:

  1. Knowing when to use them
    • not to be used during a outburst/tantrum, but AFTER
    • the child completes the activity at their desk and then can return to the classroom or working area when the activity is complete
    • depending on the student, the teacher would follow the activity with some sort of verbal/visual reminder of what is expected of them
  2. Reset activities should be short and simple
    • no longer then 5 mins
  3. Setting students up for success
    • make sure the activity is easy enough to complete without your help
    • the goal is for students to successfully, independently, and calmly self regulate themselves
  4. Choosing neutral appeal activities
    • not meant to be a reward, this would only reinforce bad behavior
    • like the second step keep them simple and basic
  5. Clear ending activities
    • student when know the activity is completed
    • this gives the teacher a clear signal that the student is ready to join the others

Reset activity ideas

  • Fabric marble maze – with any kind of fabric create a maze for he student to complete by roll a  marble through
  • Bead sort – give the student a handful of beads, the student is to sort them into categories (color, size, shape)
  • Card sort – shuffle a deck of cards and get the students to organize them (lowest to highest, suits , red cards/black cards
  • Puzzles
  • Sorting a bag of assorted pens and pencils

6 Replies to “Self-Regulation: Reset”

  1. These are great ideas! Im curious to know if some kids who throw tantrums more often than others, would figure out that it was a way to get out of doing their assigned work or activity.

  2. I really like you topic and I love how easily you have layed it out. There are many guidelines that you stated that i found very helpful and i didn’t really think to consider them. They are very important so im happy that I read your post! I feel like I will be more mindful when approaching self-regulation strategies and support in the classroom. I really like that you supplied some reset activities ideas that we can take away and have the background knowledge of why they work well. When reading your post I think about ways to set up the classroom to fit with this self-regulation perspectives and techniques. Thank you! I really enjoyed learning about your topic and I look forward to learning more!

  3. I think the reset strategy is great. I think it would be very helpful in my current practicum class, so I am very happy I read your post. I liked how you compared it to when adults have activities that involve using their hands to help them calm down. That was how it made sense to me that maybe students would benefit from something like that as well. I appreciate how you have given a few reset activities to use. I may just have to try them out.
    Breanna 🙂

  4. Hello Nan,

    Wow great post. I often wonder how to handle situations when a student is outbursting or having a “moment”. I have seen some pretty big blow-ups and I often wonder what the protocol is with those students and the class. I think that all of the activities you have listed here would be very useful and I wish I would have been informed of them sooner for my last year practicum class.
    I love that you listed some guidelines to follow. I think it is important to set a time limit on how long the activity takes and that it should not be a reward. I think that I would find it hard to “take it away” after they are done because maybe they would like to do it again and I wouldn’t want to set them off again. I would assume that that expectation would be set at the beginning so that student knew that it was a reset activity rather than a replacing activity, or an “instead” of.

    Thanks for the tips,


  5. This is such an important topic that I have never put thought towards! I feel as if we focus so much on how to de-escalate children that we never consider what to do after the child calms down. Reset activities are critical to avoid re-escalation. Similar to an earth quake, there may not be an aftershock but it is always best to prepare.

  6. Love the reset idea!!
    It is a way to let the students also feel successful after a tantrum/outburst and helpful. I think after you built that relationship with them it would become such a handy tool and they would just know even before it hits to pick up a reset activity? Lends itself to self-regulation.

    Thanks so much Nan!

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