Have you ever wondered how you can use books to teach self-regulation to students? Kids love books and self-regulation is an important part of SEL. But it’s sometimes overlooked.
Yes, counselors often focus on the identification of feelings. But it’s not enough to just teach the difference between sad, angry, happy, or jealous.
Because there’s a next step involved. And that, of course, is self-regulation.
In other words, once a feeling is pinpointed, we should take it one step further and teach students to respond to their feelings. In other words, teach them how to manage them.
According to The Child Mind Institute, “The key to learning self-regulation skills, says Dr. Rouse, is not to avoid situations that are difficult for kids to handle, but to coach kids through them and provide a supportive framework — clinicians call it “scaffolding” the behavior you want to encourage — until they can handle these challenges on their own.”
But we don’t always have the opportunity to help our students through emotional situations as they arise.
Instead, we call upon some of the more popular, and effective ways, to teach students to manage their emotions. Like activities that promote mindfulness, for example.
But there’s another, extremely effective (and easy) way to teach self-regulation to students.
And that’s through books.
How Books Teach Self-Regulation
Books with relatable characters and scenarios will help students learn that their feelings are normal. While reading, or being read to, students immerse themselves in the stories, and feelings, of their favorite characters.
In doing so, they’ll experience ways to manage their emotions based on the outcomes in books.
Reading about a beloved book character (who is managing an overwhelming feeling) can help students manage their emotions in a similar (healthy) way!
Questions to Ask Students
After reading, it can help to promote conversation about the feelings the characters had, and how they coped with them.
While students may relate, on a deep level, to the stories, it’s important to drive the point home by asking students to name the emotions within the story.
Then, ask students to talk about how they felt about the way the characters handled their emotions. In these conversations, students can discuss regulation and perhaps touch on ways they could either improve on the outcomes or personalize their own methods of regulation.
- What was X feeling?
- How do you know that’s how X felt?
- Have you ever felt the same way?
- Think of a time you felt the same as X.
Then, help your students study the reactions and whether they felt they were appropriate.
- What did X do to feel better?
- Would that work for you?
- What would you have done differently?
Lastly, you can help students identify their own action plan for when they’re feeling something similar.
A Few Fantastic Books to Teach Self-Regulation to Students
There are way too many to list, but these are some of my favorites. You can also do a quick search on Amazon for Children’s books about self-regulation to get an exhausting list. You will be able to sort by age and refine your search down if needed. Be sure to check out the reviews for each book.
What Should Danny Do? Adir Levy
The Kids’ Guide to Staying Awesome and In Control by Lauren Brukner
Mindfulness for Kids Who Worry by Katie Austin
I Am Stronger Thank Anger by Elizabeth Cole
My Magic Breath by Nick Ortner
You may or may not know that I have a couple of published books as well and I would love your feedback if you have read them. The first is about Growth Mindset and the second one works on correcting Cognitive Distortions.