Calming strategies from Starting Points students
June 06, 2019
Wood’s Homes has worked together with the Calgary Catholic School District since 2005 through the Starting Points program. Our School Support Counsellors work out of seven elementary classrooms in mainstream schools throughout the city, assisting with students who sometimes struggle to regulate their emotions in an educational setting. The goal is to teach kids the skills that will enable them to integrate back in to mainstream classrooms.
As we approach the end of the school year, we have been reflecting with our clients on some of the skills and strategies they have learned this year that help them to stay calm and able to focus, both in and out of school. We asked our kids what works for them, and were able to compile this list of the top 10 strategies that help them to regulate their emotions and remain at baseline:
- Deep breathing – We all sometimes need reminders of how important it is to take a deep breath or utilize a breathing strategy, such as candle breathing, when we are feeling overwhelmed.
- Taking space – Whether it’s going for a walk or spending time away in a quiet area, most of our kids appreciate a change in the environment when they start to feel unsettled.
- Body breaks – Getting up and moving around is a great way to burn off extra energy and change your point of view.
- Alternative seating – Most Starting Points classrooms have a variety of seating options, including wobble stools, beanbag chairs, balance balls, rocking chairs and ‘egg’ chairs (the kind from Ikea that have a cover you can pull down to create a private space).
- Fidget toys – From fidget spinners to stress balls to Lego, many kids need to have something in their hands to aid in focusing. To quote one of our students, “These help so that the kid doesn’t play with other things that are not fidgets and it helps them to concentrate.”
- Time with a trusted adult – Sometimes it’s talking through the thoughts and feelings or even just playing some basketball, but spending time with someone you feel comfortable with can help kids co-regulate and return to the activity at hand.
- Knowing the schedule – A regular and predictable routine helps kids to feel at ease with daily expectations.
- Drawing or colouring – To quote one of our students, “Give them paper to doodle on. If it is a class where they do not have to write but have to listen, let them doodle. It keeps them busy and helps them focus.”
- Food – Have you ever been hangry? Having your basic needs met is often the first step towards emotional regulation.
- Music – Emotions can be positively affected by hearing beautiful or soothing music.