The Evidence Portal

Developing skills in self-regulation

Flexible activity

The activity of developing skills in self-regulation is important to children transitioning to school as it enables them to sit and listen in the classroom, behave in socially acceptable ways and make friends as they learn to take turns in games and conversations and share toys. These skills include learning to regulate reactions to strong emotions like frustration, excitement, anger and embarrassment, calm down after something exciting or upsetting, focus on a task and control impulses.

How can it be implemented?

The development of self-regulation skills can be implemented through explicit teaching, modelling and reinforcing.

Who is the target group?

This flexible activity’s target group is students transitioning to kindergarten.

What programs conduct this activity?

Kids in Transition to School (KITS): This program ensures multiple opportunities for practising self-regulation skills are embedded across classroom activities, such as handling frustration and disappointment, controlling impulses, following multistep directions, listening, and making appropriate transitions.

Second Step Early Learning (SSEL): This program introduces children to self-regulation techniques such as self-talk and learning to calm down.

Roots of Resilience: Teachers are trained in the use of coaching sessions that focus on self-regulation by isolating “serve and return” teacher-child interactions in which: 1) children’s serves show self-regulation (less-regulation or more-regulation); 2) teachers exhibit self-regulation when returning children’s serves; and 3) teachers return children’s serves in specific ways that support children’s growing self-regulation.

What else should I consider?

Developing skills in self-regulation is a process that, for some children, takes considerable time (particularly those children with ADS or ADHD). There is a role for both teachers and parents to consider the development of these skills on an individual basis that avoids comparing one child’s level of skill with that of another child.

Further resources

  • Upshur, C. C., Wenz-Gross, M., Rhoads, C., Heyman, M., Yoo, Y. and Sawosik, G. 2019. A randomized efficacy trial of the second step early learning (SSEL) curriculum. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 62, 145-159.
  • Pears, K., Fisher, P., Kim, H., Bruce, J., Healey, C. and Yoerger, K. 2013.  Immediate Effects of a School Readiness Intervention for Children in Foster Care. Early Education and Development, 24, 771-791.
  • Pears, K. C., Kim, H. K. And Fisher, P. A. 2012. Effects of a school readiness intervention for children in foster care on oppositional and aggressive behaviors in kindergarten. Children and Youth Services Review, 34, 2361-2366
  • Lipscomb, S. T., Hatfield, B., Goka-Dubose, E., Lewis, H. and Fisher, P. A. 2021.  Impacts of Roots of Resilience professional development for early childhood teachers on Young children’s protective factors. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 56, 1-14.
Last updated:

24 Feb 2023

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