Self-regulation Training Program
(Fourth Grade Students 2011-2012)
In today’s times of limited resources, professionals and parents are consistently asked to do more with less. This idea even impacts the time and energy we have to spend on helping children grow to reach their full potential. The question then becomes:
“If you only had a few minutes to spend with a child, what would be the most important skill you could teach this child that would increase his/her chances for success in all areas of life?”
According to research, your answer to this question should include self-regulation skills. Self-regulation, or the ability to proactively choose and carry out our emotional and behavioral responses to events in our lives, has repeatedly been shown to be important for success in many areas. These areas include, but are not limited to:
The Self-regulation Training program, outlined in the book “Helping Young People Learn Self-regulation,” suggests that self-regulation skills can be effectively taught to children in a very systematic way. The authors have separated the self-regulation skills into 3 domains: Physical, Emotional and Cognitive.
As recommended, the Physical skills are taught first. This involves the identification of warning signs, the idea of feeling safe, and the introduction of calming techniques. Next, Emotional regulation skills are taught. This phase is designed to focus on the development of an emotional vocabulary and healthy ways to express emotions. An important component that bridges the gap between Emotional and Cognitive skill-training is the idea of emotional control. Children are taught that they are in control of their own emotional responses and that no one can “make” them feel a certain way. The final phase of training addresses the Cognitive domain. In this stage children gain insight, learn higher level problem-solving and are taught how to modify their thinking.
The participants were thirty-three 4th grade students from two classrooms in a Central Kansas elementary school.
The Self-regulation Training curriculum*, along with supplemental activities, were administered in twelve 30-minute sessions over twelve weeks. The majority of the activities were completed while the classes were broken into small groups of 4 or 5.
Each group was assigned an adult to facilitate the lesson.
Self-report Self-regulation Questionnaire
Each student completed a self-report measure consisting of 12 questions. This data was collected first at Session 1 and then again at Session 12.
Teacher-report Self-regulation Questionnaire
Each classroom teacher rated his/her students on eight items using a 1-10 rating scale, with 10 being very well developed. This rating was completed prior to Session 1 and then again following Session 12.
Office Discipline Referrals
The number of Office Discipline Referrals for the two 4th grade classrooms were recorded by office staff.
Teacher Reflection Questions
To gain insight into how the teachers perceived the experience, each one was given reflective questions to answer.
The scores for the Self-report Self-regulation Questionnaire were tabulated and compared. The t-test results indicated a significant difference with a p value of less than .005.
The scores for the Teacher-report Self-regulation Questionnaire were tabulated and compared. The t-test results indicated a significant difference with a p value of less than .005.
Office Discipline Referrals (ODRs) were counted and compared for the 3 months prior to the Self-regulation training program and the 3 months following the implementation of the program. There were 18 ODRs for the 3 months prior and 3 ODRs for the 3 months following. This is a reduction of 83%.
Teacher Reflection Questions
The following are the reflective questions and responses completed by the teachers of the two classrooms.
1. Describe any meaningful changes in student behavior that you think may have resulted from the program. Please be as specific as you can and provide examples.
“There were three different occasions when a couple boys began to have an issue that was escalating. In each instance, they were able to calm themselves and make positive choices. Two of the boys even apologized without any coaching.”
“One student does very well at recognizing her triggers & warning signs and asks for a break. Another student has gotten better at writing down his feelings when he is upset and then just tears the paper up to release the thought. I think that some of my students really grasped the concepts and recognized how to self-regulate. Some students even talk to themselves in the middle of starting a melt down about things they learned during the program.”
2. Please share your general impressions of how you believe the students perceived the program as a whole? For example, were they bored, engaged, excited, happy, frustrated, etc.?
“I think the class as a whole really looked forward to the sessions. They enjoyed the hands-on activities and the computer time.”
“Most of my students loved knowing you guys were coming. The majority were engaged, happy, and liked learning ways to self-regulate.”
3. Describe any change in your own behavior/mood that you may have experienced as a result of the program. Please be as specific as you can and provide examples.
“I feel that I am using some better methods when dealing with the students. I am trying to use more positive consequences and shorter time frame for the students to succeed.”
“I think I have started to pay more attention to my students’ warning signs and triggers. I see myself start to calm down more often. I raise my voice less and try to use calming strategies before getting upset with the students. I used these before the program, but am more self aware. The kids are more aware now and recognizing when I am getting upset.”
Research continues to support the idea that those who learn healthy self-regulation skills are more successful across many areas of life. The results of the current study support this notion. Positive changes were reported from the students and from the teachers. Both the objective and the subjective measures indicated significant outcomes.
This program was able to help create meaningful change in classrooms with only twelve 30-minute sessions. Students were able to learn and demonstrate healthy self-regulation skills in different settings. The researchers also believe that one of the most important effects of the program was the change observed in the classroom teachers. They reported changes in their approaches to problem situations and they also appeared to feel more competent in dealing with social/emotional issues.
Given the results of this project, it was decided that the next step is to explore the outcome of Self-regulation with younger students in an attempt to begin the skill-training earlier. We are currently evaluating the effects of this Self-regulation Training Program with Kindergarten and 1st grade students.
Brad Chapin, LCP, LMLP
*Chapin, B. & Penner, M. (2012). Helping Young People Learn Self-regulation. Chapin, SC: Youthlight, Inc.