The Regulation Resource

For educators supporting mental health and well-being in students, colleagues, parents/caregivers and themselves through trauma sensitive practices.
January 12, 2023| Issue 2
Regulation Strategies for Middle/ High School
When practiced regularly, these strategies can enhance capacity for emotional regulation in the brain, making it easier to return to a regulated state when big feelings happen.

Breathing: The simple act of taking deep breaths sends signals to the brain and body for calm and regulation.

Co-regulated breath: Group breathing exercises are best when led by a trusted adult. This supports a regulated educator who teaches in a way that creates a calm and safe learning environment. Co-regulation can develop the skills in students so that they can eventually self-regulate independently. 

Guided Breathing: 
  • Triangle Breath: Trace a triangle with your finger. Side one: inhale; side two: hold breath; side three: exhale. Students can be given a small, laminated triangle to practice and carry with them.

  • Five Finger Breath: Stretch hand and fingers out like a star, palm facing away. Use index finger on other hand to trace fingers slowly starting with the thumb. Breath in through nose when tracing up, and out through mouth when tracing down. When you reach the pinky, reverse course and return to the thumb so that each finger is traced twice.

  • Make a Game of It: Use a cotton ball (or colored pom pom) and straw. Each student takes a deep breath in and blows their cotton ball down a long table. Who can get it the furthest in one breath? Can you get it across the finish line? Note how this activity requires breathing deep and exhaling slowly to control the cotton ball so it does not veer off the table.

Grounding: Grounding is useful for a student who tends have a more dissociative response to stress. This is when mental "flight" (day dreaming, checking out) and tuning out the outside world is a coping strategy. Grounding is a gentle way of bringing people back to present time and space.

  • 5,4,3,2,1: Write down 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and one thing that you can taste. Take a deep breath between each prompt.
  • Drum, Clap, & Stomp: Drum out a beat on the table; students repeat on their desk. Clap out a pattern; students repeat. Stomp out a pattern; students repeat. Mix up drum, clap, stomp and move from simple patterns to more complex.

Rhythm: Repetitive rhythms resonate with the lower parts of our brains. These are the parts of the brain that help us to feel calm and safe. 
  • Drumming call and response patterns
  • Call and response attention getters
  • Bounce a ball to a beat on a metronome (can access on-line)
  • Partner bean bag or tennis ball toss to a beat or song
  • Music that is 60 beats per minute. Look for a playlist on Spotify

Movement: Movement is an essential part of how we learn. It can alert us and give us energy and help us to cope with frustration. It also promotes attention and memory. Be sure to include steady rhythm in your movement activities.
  • Reach for the ceiling with hands up high then touch your toes
  • Wall pushups
  • Walking worksheets (questions taped to different stations on the wall)
  • Rotate through different work stations
  • Pair share while walking with partner (hallway or outside if possible)
  • Solution /Answer - Half students have a question and half have an answer on index card. Solution and answer need to find each other
Facilitators: Sara Daniel &
Kanisha Phelps
Upcoming Events

Well-being in Education
(March 6, 8 & 10 8:30 -10:30 am CST
Recording available after event for all registered participants

This series is for educators (Early childhood, K-12, and Post-Secondary) who are looking to create a school environment that promotes healing and well-being for all.

Session #1: Focus is on educator well-being. We will share strategies to promote compassion and resilience so that our educators can promote co-regulation with students.

Session #2: We will discuss using a equitable and inclusive lens to promote well-being for all within our schools.

Session #3: We will share strategies that support students to regulate, heal and grow in their school setting.

Join us for this interactive and informative virtual training series.

Register now and receive a 20% discount using code: Regulation

Community of Practice: Stress and Trauma in Education (Free)

Come and join this drop-in community of practice group that will met virtually throughout the school year. We will discuss current effective strategies and practices to support mental health and well being in students, staff and parents/caregivers through a trauma sensitive lens. Have an opportunity to network with other educators who are doing this work. Please bring resources to share, discussion topics, questions and challenges to this informal virtual group.

Clink below to register:
Featured blog:

Student Connection Takes Skills, Time and a Multilevel Approach
When a school or educator endeavors to create a trauma-informed environment in their school, building relationships with students is seen as one of the core strategies at the forefront of this work. I have heard this said so frequently that to my ears, it often comes off as a platitude or truism. Like, duh…. it’s just that simple. But one of the things that I frequently say is that “it is easy to build relationships with the people that it is easy to build relationships with”. In other words, connection with students is most often a natural and rewarding part of the job. It comes easily with students that have had positive adult connections in the past and with whom we share similar culture, lived experiences, or values.

But what about that student that rejects your attempts to connect? Or that you feel like you are making progress with, and then you hit a wall and are back to square one? What about the students where there is frequent need for repair of the relationship due to negative incidents that degrade trust for both student and adult? What about that student that is withdrawn and needs extra attention and compassion but at a pace and frequency that they can tolerate without becoming overwhelmed or threatened? And what about that student that thrives on attention but can never seem to get enough?

The good news is that for all these students, positive connection and relationship is possible. But it takes two things: Time and Skills (and time to learn, practice, self-reflect on, and receive coaching on these skills!). When the platitude of “build relationships” is paired with increasing demands on educator’s time and increasing class sizes it is easy to see why there is so much frustration in education.
Below are a few ideas on how we can prioritize the time and skills needed to connect with every student.

Time and Skills: District Level
Too often the business of building relationships with students is thought of solely as an educator responsibility. However, engaging all students in positive relationships with adults must be a district priority for it to succeed. Only through this commitment will the time to build and use the skills required, rise to the top of the list of the many competing priorities at school.
1.    Prioritize student connections and engagement for all students as a district-wide goal.
2.    Use connection and engagement as part of your district branding and marketing. Include this language in your mission and vision statements.
3.    Help your school board and the community to see the relationship between student connection, engagement and student achievement.
4.    Fund initiatives that intentionally promote student mentoring and culturally responsive practices.
5.    Allow for building level daily schedules and professional development to prioritize the time and skill development needed for to achieve these outcomes.
6.    Collect and publish data using student and educator voices to determine what is working. Use this data in educator and administrator evaluations. Incentivize positive outcomes.
Daniel Educational Services Spotlight