Self-Regulation In & Outside the Classroom

Self-Regulation refers to several processes that allow children to respond appropriately to their immediate environment. Learning self-regulating techniques allows children to stay focused and alert while in a classroom setting or any other social setting. The days where “children should be seen and not heard” have rightfully been displaced as adults realize the relevance and joy they bring to our lives. As such, we often tend to find ourselves overwhelming our kids with the amenities that reflect their blissful childhood. Their bedrooms are adorned with the latest popular animated characters, and their busily-decorated classrooms offer every possible reflection of their young and tender minds. These and other distractions to their concentration can often manifest into more serious behavioral traits that disrupt their lives and those around them.

Toning down their behavior often means toning down their surroundings. Without overwhelming visual distractions, a child learns to regulate their behavior that is geared toward the task at hand. While school PE teachers motivate their students with excitement and the prospect of game success, a math class should be calm and soothing without the specter of intimidation that could disrupt a child’s learning process. Other self-regulating techniques involve innocuous, non-disruptive activities such as letting kids fiddle with a piece of yard or squeeze a rubber ball while the teacher is talking. Students are often permitted to stand while working, or performing deep breathing exercises as a way to channel away anxiety, rather than be subjected to more traditional punishment-and-reward methods that can curtail their concentration and focus.

The same self-regulating techniques that kids learn to improve their academic performance can also be applied outside the classroom as well. For example, breathing techniques can also be used to quell the stomach butterflies one gets before a dance or music recital. A child experiencing anxiety before a sporting event benefits from self-regulation as a way to not only enhance their athletic prowess, but to serve as a shining example to their teammates or opponents of proper sports etiquette.

Regardless of the scenario, we at SEL for prevention can teach children how to translate their experiences into information they can use to regulate their thoughts, emotions, and actions. Children who cannot effectively regulate anxieties and behaviors tend to disengage themselves from challenging learning activities that can affect not only their academic success, but their social interactions as well. With our help, kids can learn the regulation techniques that will resonate to all aspects of their lives, laying the foundations for years of success well into their futures.

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