Teaching self regulation in learning environments, such as classrooms, is so important for young learners to be able to succeed. In fact, when I taught kindergarten I felt like 80% of what I taught was about self regulation of emotions and behaviors, and only about 20% was academics. By first grade, it was about 50/50. That’s a lot of focus on self regulation skills!
And unfortunately, trying to ignore these important behavior skills will just make your classroom life more challenging. Instead, it’s better to make social emotional learning an integrated part of what you teach – find books, crafts, and activities that you can weave into your school day to help support your students with their self regulation in learning.
Read on for 9 must-read books that teach self regulation for the classroom.
Children’s Books For Self Regulation
One of the best ways to teach these important self regulation skills is through children’s books! No matter the subject, picture books seem to always hold the attention of my little learners and get the point across with clarity. And good news – there are lots of wonderful books out there to help students understand self regulation of emotions and ways to do it.
There are a couple of ways that I use these books for self regulation in learning environments. Sometimes, I plan to teach a certain social emotional learning topic each month. This helps me focus on materials for that topic and helps the students really absorb the strategies and information for that topic without getting confused. Other times, I will dive into a social emotional learning topic that I feel my class is really needing. If I’m seeing lots of behaviors that would benefit from a certain book, I’ll pull it out in the moment.
How and when you read these books isn’t the most important thing – just make sure you’re jumping in and getting started!
Self Regulation Tools
These first three books are helpful because they provide tools and strategies in the context of an engaging story for children to read. Students can identify with the characters of the book and relate the story back to their own experiences.
Reading children’s books also creates a shared memory that you can refer back to when talking about the topic in the future. Connecting things back to previous stories we read is always fun and helpful. For example, you might say in the future, “Wow, I see you’re having trouble with ___. Remember when Piggie and Gerald were having this same problem? What did they do?”
Here are some great books that include strategies and tools for self-regulation:
This book teaches children there are ways to calm and soothe themselves when big feelings come up. It follows the worries of a cute hamster and what she learns to help with her upset emotions. This book is actually part of series called “The Way I Feel Books” that go into different kinds of emotions. The book is simple and easy to understand for young students.
In this story, a bunny rabbit learns to identify her feelings of anger. Her family helps her come up with ways to manage them and feel better. This is another book in the very sweet “The Way I Feel Books” series. The strategies introduced to manage anger are simple and very child-friendly. They are perfect to try with your class and practice as a group.
Many students will be able relate to the main character, Jackson, in this story. After one upsetting incident, Jackson’s angry feelings start to ruin his whole day. Eventually, he learns some coping mechanisms for dealing with his anger. This books is part of another helpful series – Teacher and Therapist Toolbox: I Choose. This series could be helpful to explore any time you have a specific behavior or issue you’re looking to address.
Self Regulation Of Big Emotions
Often, identifying emotions is the first step to being able to regulate them. As students get better at noticing how they are feeling and why, they will be more able to apply different strategies and tactics to get back on track.
The main character in this book explores, identifies, and accepts all of the feelings she has throughout her day. This book promotes the acceptance of emotions, rather than the rejection of them, which can be important in helping young students with their self regulation in learning environments.
This book acknowledges the hard feelings that can come up during our day and offers some ways to identify them and move on. The fun illustrations in this book are highly engaging, and the situations are very relatable for children.
A story of a boy with extreme emotions. He learns to accept and celebrate his ability to feel things deeply. You may have a child like this in your classroom. This story emphasizes that all of our feelings can be recognized and welcomed, but that it’s also important to have strategies to cope with them.
It’s surprising how many self regulation issues and behavioral problems can have their roots in self esteem. When children don’t feel comfortable in their own skin or they don’t feel confident in their skills, this can lead to emotional unbalances that are hard to deal with. Celebrating differences and encouraging children to embrace their uniqueness can start the journey of self love for students. The view children have of themselves will make a big difference in their life as a student.
This book emphasizes the importance of accepting ourselves and the people around us, regardless of differences in appearances or abilities. I love that it celebrates individuality, while also encouraging acceptance.
A guide to self-esteem for children, this book shows us how important it is to appreciate your unique you-ness! A fun introduction to self-compassion for young children.
A lesson about how important it is to speak kindly to ourselves. So often, we emphasize kindness to others but then forget to use those practices with ourselves! This book teaches students that they can send themselves positive messages throughout the day to help regulate their emotions.
Further Learning For Self Regulation In Learning Environments
I hope this list is useful for you and your students as you explore self regulation in learning and beyond! Social emotional and self regulation skills are so important for students to be successful in their classroom.
If you’re struggling with teaching social emotional learning topics with your students, check out my Social Emotional Learning Activity bundle, which includes lesson plans, crafts, anchor charts, and activities.
Which book are you going to try first with your students? Let me know in the comments! xoxo Laura