Self-Regulation of Emotions

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Definition of
is Fundamental to a CBA
Additional Resources Related to

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Definition of Self-Regulation of Emotions

Self regulation of emotions is a critical aspect of student learning attention to which is part of the core set of responsibilities for school counselors. The following definition is provided.

Self-Regulation of Emotions is Fundamental to a CBA

Teachers and administrators have school counselors on speed dial whenever students are getting out of control. They are called to help calm the student down and to restore an emotional balance so the student can return to class and participate without being disruptive. These interventions may require a brief solution-focused approach, extended counseling opportunities via one-on-one interactions or small group interventions, or can require referral to other professional staff members in the school (e.g., social worker, school psychologist) or outside service agencies. In every case, however, the goal is to help these students control their emotions and behaviors.

School counselors must be aware of problems associated with self-regulation of emotions, their causes and strategies for addressing them. Children need to learn how to direct their own attention and modulate emotional states related to fear, anxiety, anger and depression. By enabling all students to regulate their own attention and emotional states, school counselors promote the development of essential skills necessary for learning, persistence, resilience and effective and satisfying social interactions.

The majority of these effective approaches use some form of cognitive-behavioral skills training to teach students how to control their own internal processes and to modulate their own internal emotional states. By enabling all students to regulate their own attention and emotional states, school counselors promote the development of essential skills necessary for learning, persistence, resilience and effective and satisfying social interactions.

Coping mechanisms are a way to learn how to regulate emotions and behavior. School counselors can help students learn how to cope, one of three essential functions in the role of school counselors: to help students learn how to learn, how to plan and how to cope). Coping mechanism such as thinking before acting, discussing, considering what others are experiencing in conflict situations can all help to make regulating our emotions a self-reflective activity that reduces the need to act out and be out of control.

In addition to dealing one-on-one with students exhibiting emotional control issues, counselors can teach a lesson or have a discussion on regulating their emotions. Invite them to assess how well they feel they control their emotions. Can they think of instances when they were out of control or were having difficulty maintaining control of their emotions? What can they do to change their behavior patterns? These can be linked to examples of how uncontrolled emotions are disruptive to learning (both personally and to classmates) and the need for students to learn how to better manage their emotions (e.g., anti-bullying or conflict resolution strategies).

Another approach is to ask students to identify emotional triggers that interfere with their ability to regulate their emotions and behaviors, and explore ways to improve their responses so they regain control. This requires students to identify in what areas they need to improve and recognize in what ways they are successful in regulating their impulses and emotions. School counselors can help student understand the consequences of not regulating their emotions and how that affects their ability to learn and succeed.

Additional Resources Related to Self-Regulation of Emotions

The Internet is a wonderful tool for accessing information on just about any topic. It has been invaluable in helping us to identify what research has demonstrated to be strongly related to students’ academic achievement and well-being, and evidence-based practices that provide concrete examples of how to translate the research findings into meaningful learning opportunities that support student development.


Staying informed about what works and does not work to help students achieve and succeed is one of the defining characteristics of a professional school counselor. Internet search engines can be used to develop a deeper understanding of the topics discussed on the CBA Website. To get you started, here are some additional resources you may find helpful. These resources, however, only scratch the surface of what is available on the Internet or in published books and articles. We encourage you to use search engines to find more resources that will increase your understanding and build your capacity to apply these ideas in your work as school counselors.


A webcast featuring Dr. Stuart Shanker & Jane Bertrand on the topic of self regulation and why it is important for learning. Focuses on the relation of self-regulation and self-control, and how self-regulation in early childhood sets the foundation for learning, behavior and health across the life span.

A video by Maggie Dent about teaching self-regulation to children. She discussed how to help our children regulate their emotions. She outlines what helps kids with self-regulation and what doesn’t.

A video by Christy from the Chirp YouTube video channel on social-emotional awareness. She discusses five core social-emotional competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making. This is one in a series of videos, this one focusing primarily on recognizing emotions in one’s self.


A good summary of self-regulation in students.

“Teaching Children the Art of Self-Control.” This article discusses discusses self-regulation and its relationship to social connection from infancy through adolescence.