Students Who Struggle With Self-Regulation

I think a lot of students don’t know they struggle with self-regulation. Self-regulation is something teachers and parents need to teach students to do. I think it is a skill that students who have it mastered at at an earlier age, give them an advantage in a school setting. I thought it would be helpful to be able to recognize if a student is struggling with self-regulation and some of the strategies we can use to help them. It is interesting to see how other students perceive these “troublesome” students. During parent teacher conferences a few students has make reference about some students who disrupt their learning by acting out/blurting in class.

How to tell if a student is struggling with self-regulation 

Students who are struggling with self-regulation may:

  • Act overly silly or “out-of-control’
  • Throw tantrums or have melt downs
  • Blurts outs
  • Has difficulty waiting turns or waiting in general
  • Demonstrates disruptive behavior during social interactions such as talking too loud, standing in peoples bubbles, cant keep hands to themselves
  • Has difficulty walking silently or waiting in line
  • Moves abruptly
  • Grabs or touches objects impulsively

How to Help Students develop Self-Regulation 

I think anything involving games and hands on activities is a great way to incorporate self-regulation in the classroom. Games that help support students problem solve, plan,  memory, attention, motor control, and sequence will help them develop the skills needed for self-regulation.  Calming techniques are also a good way to create self-awareness and mindfulness in the classroom.

Games/Activities that Teach Self-Regulation 

  • Simon says
  • Deep breathing/ other breathing techniques
  • Freeze tag
  • Partner obstacle course
  • Musical Chairs
  • Jenga
  • Bop it
  • Yoga
  • Meditation for kids
  • Calming sensory activities such as blowing bubbles, cards, cooperative games, I-Spy, and scavenger hunts

Calming Sensory Strategies for the Classroom 

  • A quiet place and a way for students to signal they need a break
    • This could easily be put in place in the classroom, as basic as a corner with a comfortable chair, a tent, or canopy, anything that gives the student privacy. You also want the area to be fairly quiet to limit the inputs (auditory/visual) so the student can calm themselves, regroup, and then return to the class/.
  • Calming Tactile Input
    • Tactile sense is the way we interpret information from the the receptors on our skin. Our tactile system helps understand and differentiate pressures, textures of a certain object and helps us understand and determine what we are touching. It also helps us understand pain and temperature and how our bodies react to both.
    • This could look like a sensory bin that is filled with sand, rice, dried beans. Students would then run their hands in the bins and it provides a calming sensation for them.
  • Calming Oral Sensory Input
    • Chewing can help students calm down by chewing something like a bagel, sum, chewy caramel, fruit leathers. Or they can try sucking in a thick smoothie, or blowing light objects across a table.
  • Calming Auditory Input
    • When students are acting a little wild, a great way to calm them down is to quiet things down.
    • Playing calm music while students are working (raining, waves, oceans), this could help block out other auditory noises that maybe distracting to students.
  • Calming Visual Input
    • Too much visual stimulation may be distracting for some students
    • Somethings you can so are: Use natural lighting, de-cluster the classroom, lava lamps, sensory bottles/jars, or having shape of the day posted.
  • Calming Proprioceptive input
    • This is where the student is move their body or body part against heavy resistance
    • Stress balls, slime, chewing tough gum, pushing or moving heavy objects


2 Replies to “Students Who Struggle With Self-Regulation”

  1. this was super helpful!!!! i have a lot of kids in my practicum class who need lots of reminders for this kind of stuff. i love all the samples of activities you’ve provided. i’d also add that ‘silent ball’ is a great short activity for the end of the day between clean up and the bell. the whole idea is being silent and throwing gently while focusing on catching and communicating what you need without using noise. it’s a really good game to keep kids engaged while also giving them the opportunity to practice reigning in those blurting moments and manic energy.

  2. This is great! It really works in with my topic! From what I have gotten from this post is that a Regio Emilia styles class could really help with self-regulation as long as other strategies!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *