I spend a lot of time teaching students coping strategies. One of the things I want to make sure they learn is how to self regulate their emotions when they are feeling stressed. I want them to know what to do when they are in class and they begin to feel anxious. It’s not always an option to head down to my room. I can’t always be there with them through every difficult situation. They need to learn the skills to help themselves. This is something I think all of us want for our students.
There are several ways I do this. I may start with a feelings check in. This will help students get a feel for how upset they are on a scale from cool to hot and then give a few minutes to try some self regulation strategies to see if they can deescalate their temper. Star breathing is a great way to try to calm. When students focus on their breathing, they breathe deeper and calmer.
Another thing I do is to try to teach skills when they are already calm. I do a lesson with my small groups about Mindfulness. We talk about what mindfulness is and how it can help us to think things through before reacting. I also teach them several mindfulness techniques and they get to make a small booklet of use anytime skills to keep in their binders. They can use these during classes right at their desk and because they skills are subtle, they do not draw attention to themselves.
Today, I had my students make beaded fidgets, which are also know as Active Response Beads. These fidgets are really easy to make. My lunch bunch girls also helped to make this video for you so you can see how easy they are to make. Once the fidgets are made, kids can take them with to class. When they are feeling stressed they can just hold them in their hands and slide the beads as they take their 10 deep breathes. Just moving the beads back and forth is relaxing too and I have a few in my office students can use to play with as we talk about what is on their mind.
I play a lot of games to teach coping skills too. The main thing is to be consistent with students when they are struggling by having them practice the skills they have been taught. I try to use the same few skills over and over. Below you will find some links of the games I use.
These pennant are also visual reminders and can be displayed after they are taught.
What do you use? Leave me a comment and let me know.