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Helping children to channel their emotions properly is a huge part of teaching elementary school.

There are many negative ways for children to handle their emotions, and retraining them to handle them more constructively can feel like an uphill battle.

We’ve come across some effective strategies in our years of teaching, and we hope they will prove useful to you and your class too! The use of four colors, as introduced in the Zones of Regulation, is a helpful way for students to talk about their feelings. You can follow the tips below to implement this structure in your classroom.

These examples will help you to help your students:

  • Regulate their emotions
  • Gain a deeper understanding of how their actions affect others
  • Notice how their body feels as they begin to feel emotions
  • Please pay attention to the events that cause them to feel out of emotional control
  • Gain a deeper sense of self-awareness

To help students of all ages learn how to regulate their emotions, many of these strategies are geared toward younger learners and rely on integrating games into the classroom curriculum. Take a look and see how you can integrate these helpful tips to support student emotions.

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Emotion/Match game

Like the popular card game UNO, this game goes beyond simply playing and incorporating role-play into a card game. Cards may be matched by color or number, and the challenge begins! The cards each feature a probing question, and the students will act out their answers once read. This is a great way for students to learn how it feels about talking about their emotions while keeping them in check.

Make contingency maps for days when emotions become overwhelming

Kind of like a treasure map, the contingency map shows students what happens when they react positively or negatively to a stimulus. It’s part choose your adventure and part picture map. This project offers an effective way for students to grasp the consequences that can arise from their actions.

Create a toolbox filled with emotion-regulating strategies

Following the color scheme mentioned above, children need to learn how to return to the “green zone” when they are out of sorts. This toolbox helps them to utilize practices such as taking a few deep breaths, asking for help, or removing themselves from a stressful situation.

Focus on strategies and solutions

By helping students to focus on solutions, not just negative reactions, you can help instill healthy behavioral patterns. Visual prompts are especially effective when trying to get students back on track. Make sure that you let them know that the idea is that you are there as an “extra” resource, and the goal is for them to manage their own emotions.

Create a quiet nook within the classroom where students can go and regroup

When students know that there is a space where they can retreat when they are feeling overwhelmed, it can help them to regroup and prevent unnecessary outbursts. Make sure that the space is truly safe and that there are no negative consequences for using it as it is designed.

Help the students use an emotion thermometer.

Helping students recognize when they are starting to get “hot” is an effective way to avoid outbursts and misbehaviors. Help the students to identify where they are on the thermometer and how to cool themselves down.

Use task cards to teach youngsters how to exhibit emotional control

This is another role-play type of activity. Students can better prepare themselves when they recognize interactions and experiences that may set them off. Knowing that they are encountering a situation that has turned negative before can set off a caution light in their minds and cause them to take a step back.