Teaching Emotional Regulation to Children

Uncategorized May 05, 2023

It’s a normal day in your class, all the pupils sitting in the class, brimming with excitement, eyes sparkling, ready to tackle a new learning adventure…

You hand out a math problem to the pupils in your class. But Charlie couldn’t solve it.

Instead of asking for help, he got angry, threw his pencil down, and refused to participate any further. 

This was not a mere temper tantrum but a window into Charlie's emotional world.

You see, Charlie, like many children, was grappling with emotional regulation. Teachers often witness such moments. 

They see the Charlies of their classrooms struggle with a whirlwind of emotions they don't yet know how to manage.

Is there a way to address these emotions appropriately?

Let's face it, as a teacher, you have a profound impact on your students' lives. And it goes far beyond just teaching math equations or historical events. 

You are entrusted with shaping their minds, their behavior, and most importantly, their emotional intelligence. Teaching emotional regulation to children is a crucial aspect of their overall growth.


Understanding Emotional Regulation: What's the Big Deal?

Emotional regulation, put simply, is the ability to manage our emotions in a healthy and appropriate manner. 

Now, you might wonder, "Why is it so essential for children?" 

Well, think of it like a compass. Just as a compass guides a sailor through turbulent seas, emotional regulation guides children through their own sea of emotions, helping them navigate tricky situations with resilience and grace.


The Role of Teachers in Teaching Emotional Regulation

As a teacher, you are in a unique position to influence and teach emotional regulation to your students. After all, school isn't just a place for academic learning, is it? 

It's a safe space where children learn to interact, communicate, and yes, manage their emotions. By promoting emotional regulation in the classroom, you can lay a strong foundation for your students' emotional well-being.

From coping with frustration over a challenging math problem to dealing with the disappointment of a low grade, the classroom provides countless opportunities for teaching emotional regulation.


Practical Strategies for Teaching Emotional Regulation

Matthew Rouse, Ph.D., a specialist in clinical psychology, explains that self-regulation issues can present themselves in diverse ways among children. 

Certain children react instantaneously, displaying a powerful, sudden response with no preliminary signs. These children find it difficult to control their immediate behavioral reactions.

Rouse points out that in other children, the signs of distress appear to accumulate over time until they can no longer contain it. This inevitably results in some form of behavioral explosion. “You can see them going down the wrong path but you don’t know how to stop it.”

Regardless of the nature of the reaction, Rouse highlights the importance of these children learning how to manage their intense feelings. 

He emphasizes the need for them to discover methods to communicate their emotions that are more constructive, and less disruptive, than succumbing to an emotional crisis.

Modeling Emotional Regulation

It’s hard to manage one child, let alone a classroom filled with children. For a variety of reasons, those little people can have you jumping like popcorn on a hot stove! 

Remember the old saying, "Actions speak louder than words?" 

Well, it rings true in the classroom as well. You can model emotional regulation through your own behavior, demonstrating how to respond calmly and appropriately in stressful situations.

Incorporating Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Programmes

Social-Emotional Learning programmes can be a valuable tool for teaching emotional regulation. These programmes provide structured lessons and activities that help students develop essential emotional skills. 

And the best part? 

They can easily be integrated into the regular curriculum.

Using Literature to Teach Emotional Regulation

Ever thought of using books to teach emotional regulation? 

It's a fantastic strategy! Literature can open up opportunities for discussing emotions, providing a safe and engaging way for students to learn about managing their feelings.

Teaching Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques, like deep breathing or guided imagery, can be effective in teaching emotional regulation. These techniques can help students calm their minds and gain a better understanding of their emotions.

Encouraging Expression of Emotions

Encouraging students to express their emotions can go a long way in teaching emotional regulation. Be it through journaling, drawing, or simply talking, expressing emotions can help students understand and manage their feelings better.


Why is it Important to Teach Emotional Regulation to Children?

Learning how to handle feelings is really important for children. It helps them understand the situation, how they react, how they behave, and how much fun they have in life. 

Teaching emotional regulation does more than just help students manage their emotions. It can also improve their academic performance, increase their self-esteem, and enhance their social skills.


Potential Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Like any educational endeavor, teaching emotional regulation can come with its own set of challenges. But with the right strategies and a dash of patience, these obstacles can be overcome.

Resistance from Pupils

Some pupils may resist emotional regulation lessons, feeling that they're unnecessary or "not cool." 

In such cases, it's essential to be patient and persistent, emphasizing the real-life benefits of emotional regulation and finding creative ways to engage them in the process.

Lack of Time and Resources

With an already packed curriculum, finding time to teach emotional regulation can be tough. However, try to integrate it into existing lessons, like using literature or incorporating SEL activities into your regular teaching plan.

And remember, even small efforts can make a significant impact.

Parental Involvement

Parents play a vital role in their child's emotional development. Keeping them informed and involved can help reinforce emotional regulation lessons at home. 

Share resources, tips, and progress updates to ensure a collaborative approach to emotional regulation.



Teaching emotional regulation to children is not just about helping them manage their emotions today. It's about equipping them with the tools they need to navigate the emotional rollercoaster of life with resilience and confidence. 

As a teacher, you have the power to make a lasting impact on your students' emotional well-being. So, let's embrace the challenge and create a generation of emotionally intelligent, empathetic, and well-rounded individuals.

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