In simple terms, self regulation is the ability to control one’s body and self. Many students struggle to self regulate in their daily lives. For example, students may spend too much time playing video games, and not enough time on their school work because they have a hard time controlling their impulses. As parents and mentors, we help our students develop self-regulation skills in several ways.
Create routines and encourage students to stick to them. Routines will help students form habits, which eventually become second nature to students. Initially, students may need frequent reminders about when to complete their routines. Over time, they form habits and become more independent. Additionally, students will require less frequent reminders of how and when to accomplish these tasks, and they will be able to hold themselves accountable with less external intervention.
Give students space to develop these skills on their own. Just as it is important to stay active in reminding students of their routines, tasks, and behaviors, it’s also important to give them the space to build these routines on their own. By having students plan out their day independently and communicate that plan with you, you can hold them accountable while giving them the opportunity to take more responsibility in the process.
Have students take time to reflect on their progress and habits. Encourage students to reflect on what’s going well for them, what they want to improve, and what actions they will take to work on their self-regulation. Having a discussion about progress gives students a greater sense of ownership in the process of developing these skills. This may look like reflecting on the week each Friday and making goals for the upcoming week based on students’ reflection.
Set clear expectations for your student. Many students who struggle with self-regulation benefit from having clear expectations set for them. Ambiguity around expectations can cause many students anxiety and confusion about what they need to do. Discuss expectations with students. Students may also benefit from time-based expectation guidelines, such as having homework finished by a certain time each night or completing daily chores by a certain time. This creates an environment where the student knows what to expect, and they can have the freedom to execute those tasks on their own while being held accountable.
Positively reinforce students. It’s important to acknowledge the areas in which students are succeeding and congratulate them on those successes. Positive reinforcement can help students identify beneficial actions they are taking. This will help students feel encouraged to continue these positive habits and extend them to other areas of their lives as well. Perhaps a student completed their morning routine and got to class on time every day this week. Congratulate them on this success, and ask them why they feel they were successful. When students understand what makes them successful, they can incorporate that mindset into other parts of their routines.