Behavior Mini Series Part 5: Self-regulation

            Over the past week we have talked all about how to go about taking useful data, completing a FBA, building a behavior plan and focusing on the positive behaviors you want to see more of. Phew! We have been busy!!! Today we wrap it up with a topic that is easily overlooked but crucial....self-regulation. If kiddos don't learn how to control and regulate themselves then we haven't truly taught them anything. 
          I have found that my students who struggle greatly with self-regulation need an extra incentive to practice the skill. When I am targeting the skill I often give them a take away strip like this one: 

I start by using this take away strip for just one activity and slowly increase the length of time. For this strip students pick a reinforcer that they would like to earn and velcro the picture to the end of the strip. If the student engages in the specified behavior (ex: calling out) then I take a chip. At the end of the activity or length of time if the student still has at least one chip s/he gets the reinforcer. 
As the student gets better and better at controlling him/herself I cut the strip down to just one chip which takes away the student's chance of engaging in the behavior and still earning. 

We also work on strategies for controlling yourself and what you could do to get back in control when you start to lose it. One of the things I use in my classroom is the Just Right O Meter: 

This hangs in the front of my classroom. Students who struggle with self-regulation also have a smaller copy on their desk. When students are listening, being nice, working hard, etc. they are on green. Yellow on the right of the green means students aren't putting in enough effort to learn. Here kiddos might be turned around in their seats, have their head down, etc. Yellow on the left of the green means students are starting to get loud, angry, disrespectful, etc. Red on the right side is when students are refusing to participate in learning at all, but aren't being physical. Red on the left side is when students' behaviors are out of control. They might be hitting, yelling, being destructive, self-injurious, etc. 

We spend a lot of time talking about and labeling green behaviors. We also sort pictures by color. I only leave the pictures up for the behaviors I want to see more of, though. These pictures help give students another visual reminder of expectations. 

When I get students who need all of this and more I rely on social stories. I tend to write them myself so I can customize the pictures and words to my student. I then laminate the pages before making it into a book (Just in case he decides to try and rip it while on red!). I make sure that the social story is read to the student a minimum of 3 times a day. We also review the social story and use the verbage from the story before and during any activity we know is going to be challenging for him or her. 

These tools have been successful in my classroom when we target self-regulation. I would love to hear if something else has worked for you. Drop me a line in the comment section.



  1. I love the meter! That's a great idea! :-) I started doing a link up on Sunday's. All it requires is a short and sweet post! I'd love for you to join.

    A Tender Teacher for Special Needs

  2. Thanks for letting me know...I will definitely check it out!