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Emotional and Behavioral Self-Regulation: Improve

Infants and Toddlers

Reflecting on and improving your skills and knowledge to support children's emotional and behavioral self-regulation is important work. Here are some ideas you can try with your coach or supervisor to build your teaching practices in this area:

Planning Goals and Action Steps

  • Work with your coach or supervisor to identify the teaching practices you want to build and strengthen. Below are some practices that support infants' and toddlers' emotional and behavioral self-regulation.1
    • Describe and maintain realistic developmentally and culturally appropriate expectations for children's emotional and behavioral self-regulation.
    • Help infants regulate their emotions by positively soothing, distracting, or engaging.
    • Support toddlers in learning to regulate their emotions by commenting on their emotional state and offering strategies for calming themselves (e.g., getting their comfort object, looking at a family photo, or singing a favorite song).
    • Identify children's emotional and behavioral "triggers" (e.g., objects, people, situations that can cause stress and lead to a negative reaction) and seek to minimize them.
      • For example, anticipate situations that will be stressful for children (e.g., too frustrating) and manage the amount of stress or prepare children for the situation. You may also help children identify and avoid overly stressful situations.
    • Be sensitive to how tired or overly excited children are and change the pace of the activity or interaction accordingly.
    • Recognize that "quiet alert" states are cues and may be the optimal times for engaging infants.
  • In home-based programs, consider identifying and including broader relationship-building practices such as those described in Building Partnerships: Guide to Developing Relationships with Families.
  • Create an action plan with timelines to help you use the practices consistently and effectively.

Focused Observation

  • Revisit the teaching practice that you outlined in your planning goals and action steps with your coach/supervisor. Together, plan for and schedule an observation where they can focus on how you implement the practices you've identified.
    • For example, if you chose to focus on the practice, Identify children's emotional and behavioral "triggers" (e.g., objects, people, or situations that can cause stress and lead to a negative reaction) and seek to minimize them, you might ask your coach/supervisor to observe during transition periods that are difficult for children. Have her note what strategies you used to prepare children for the transition, how children responded to your efforts, and what opportunities you may have missed to reduce children's stress.
  • In home-based programs, observations may focus on how the home visitor engages with parents to identify, adapt, and use the identified teaching and relationship-building practices. They may also focus on how you model the practices.

Reflection and Feedback

  • What went well? What did you do? How did the children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? How did their reaction support the relationship with their child? Help their child develop emotional and behavioral self-regulation?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • What seemed challenging? What did you do?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? Their child?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • Did your coach or supervisor offer feedback from the observation that was surprising? What supports do you need from her to refine and strengthen the practice? What else would help you strengthen the practice?
  • What would you do differently if you were to use this practice again?
  • What do you hope the child or parents will gain by using this practice? How will you know?

Preschoolers

Reflecting on and improving your skills and knowledge to support children's emotional and behavioral self-regulation is important work. Here are some ideas you can try with your coach or supervisor to build your teaching practices in this area:

Planning Goals and Action Steps

  • Work with your coach or supervisor to identify the teaching practices you want to build and strengthen. Below are some practices that support preschoolers' emotional and behavioral self-regulation.
    • Establish and describe realistic developmentally and culturally appropriate expectations for children's self-regulation and self-control.
    • Label children's feelings.2
    • Help children understand the link between their actions (causes) and effects (consequences).
      • For example, describe for a child what she did or said that caused another child’s emotional or behavioral response or reaction (positive or negative).
      • You may also describe the effects of a behavior on objects (e.g., a child who throws a toy in anger and breaks it can often understand that now it must be fixed or replaced).
    • Provide clearly-stated rules and expectations. Enforce these rules in a consistent and predictable manner.3
    • Communicate behavioral expectations before beginning an activity.
    • Use positive phrases that indicate what the children should be doing rather than behaviors that are not allowed.
    • Redirect children using eye contact (when culturally appropriate), touch, gesture, close physical proximity, questions about the current activity, or the child's name.
    • For children who need extra emotional support, stay in close physical proximity and check in periodically to help them self-regulate.4
    • Adult has a clear plan for children in each activity or learning center.5
    • Adult provides clear instructions for clean-up and clear choices for transition activities.
  • In home-based programs, consider identifying and including broader relationship-building practices such as those described in Building Partnerships: Guide to Developing Relationships with Families.
  • Create an action plan with timelines to help you use the practices consistently and effectively.

Focused Observation

  • Revisit the teaching practice that you outlined in your planning goals and action steps with your coach/supervisor. Together, plan for and schedule an observation where they can focus on how you implement the practices you've identified.
    • For example, if you chose to focus on the practice, Use positive phrases that indicate what the children should be doing rather than behaviors that are not allowed, you and your coach/supervisor might plan for her to observe during a free play or choice time. Ask her to note the number of times you redirect children by stating what you want them to do and why, as well as reinforcing on-task behavior (e.g., "Jared, thanks for hanging up your paint shirt. It's a big help because when paint shirts are left on the floor, people can slip on them.") versus the number of times you simply tell children to stop what they are doing (e.g., "Susan, don't just leave your paint shirt on the floor.").
  • In home-based programs, observations may focus on how the home visitor engages with parents to identify, adapt, and use the identified teaching and relationship-building practices. They may also focus on how you model the practices.

Reflection and Feedback

  • What went well? What did you do? How did the children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? How did their reaction support the relationship with their child? Help their child develop emotional and behavioral self-regulation?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • What seemed challenging? What did you do? How did the children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? Their child?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • Did your coach or supervisor offer feedback from the observation that was surprising?
    hat supports do you need from her to refine and strengthen the practice? What else would help you strengthen the practice?
  • What would you do differently if you were to use this practice again?
  • What do you hope the child or parents will gain by using this practice? How will you know?

1Sally Atkins-Burnett, et.al., Measuring the Quality of Caregiver-Child Interactions with Infants and Toddlers: The Q-CCIIT Observer Certification Training User's Guide (Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research, 2016), 19, A.2.

2California Department of Education, California Preschool Curriculum Framework Volume 1 (Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education, 2010), 55-56, Social-Emotional Development, http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/documents/psframeworkkvol1.pdf [PDF, 8.8MB].

3Robert C. Pianta, Karen M. La Paro, and Bridget K. Hamre, Classroom Assessment Scoring System Manual, Pre-K (Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes, 2008), 26, High Positive

4Carolee Howes, and Sharon Ritchie, A Matter of Trust: Connecting Teachers and Learners in the Early Childhood Classroom (New York, NY: Teachers College Press, 2002).

5Robert C. Pianta, Karen M. La Paro, and Bridget K. Hamre, Classroom Assessment Scoring System Manual, Pre-K (Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes, 2008), 52–54, High Productivity.

Topic:School Readiness

Resource Type: Article

Last Updated: June 5, 2018