Emotional regulation refers to the response to ongoing demands of experience with a range of emotions that is socially acceptable and flexible. Emotional regulation is a complex process and something many of our students work on daily in the Rock Brook School Community. When our students are more emotionally regulated, they are better able to engage with other people and are more available for learning. Sometimes they are tired and hungry or not feeling well which we can take care of. Other times they are upset about something they can or cannot express and we try to figure it out and talk about it. Sometimes it is due to internal responses that result from their own neurological make-up with no clear antecedent.
We work on emotional regulation and working through situations at school in a variety of ways, and three main approaches include: 1) Provide processing time; 2) Use simplified language; and 3) Provide visuals. Here are some specific strategies that are in no specific order:
1) Model what is expected as it decreases anxiety and increases predictability.
2) Use the phrase “First…then….. (“First finish writing three sentences…then take a break”).
3) Give a choice “Now or one minute…” (Usually the kids pick one minute…)
4) Show how many (egg, math problems to complete”) or how long (“Work for five more minutes”) and use a timer
5) Use the phrase “I start…you finish…”
6) Verbalize the rule for the situation.
7) Use Video modeling.
8) Simple tasks : give the child something to do when they are upset to calm them down that is an easy task such as sorting objects, squeezing play dough etc.
9) Use Incentive/Token Charts
10) Visual Schedules and Social stories. We find some strategies work better with specific students and then we have to switch them around and try something new. We have learned what works and what doesn’t and when we have to make changes and we keep trying!