Emotions and Self-Regulation
Identifying emotions and using coping strategies to regulate emotions are important lifelong skills. Some of the curricula used to teach these skills during self-regulation groups are Model Me Kids video modeling DVDs, The Zones of Regulation, Teach Town, Think Social!, and Resilience Builder Program for Children and Adolescents.
Free or Inexpensive Rewards for Young Children
- Assist the parent with a household chore
- Send an email to a relative telling them what a good job he/she had done on a project at school. In other words, email Aunt Linda and tell her about the “A” you got on your spelling test.
- Get to decorate paper placemats for the dining room table for dinner that evening
- Get to choose what is fixed for dinner that night- example: “You get to choose, I can make tacos or meatloaf. Which do you want me to fix?”
- Get to help parent fix dinner- shell peas, peel potatoes, make art out of vegetables, make ants on a log etc.
- Get to be the first person to share 3 stars and a wish at the dinner table (3 good things that happened that day and one thing they wish had gone better. )
- Get to create a family night activity- roller skating, hiking in the park, picnic dinner on the living room floor or under the dining room table with blankets over the top.
- Camp out in the backyard with a parent.
- Get a car ride to or from school instead of the bus
- Get to have a picture framed for mom or dad’s office
- Get to choose the game the family plays together that night
- Get to choose the story the family reads out loud together
- Get to go with a parent to volunteer at a retirement home (the children will get tons of attention)
- Get to gather old toys and take to a shelter for children who have nothing
- Get to ask friends to bring dog and cat food to their birthday party instead of toys that will break. Take the food to a shelter the day after as a reward. They will get a lot of attention from the staff.
- Bury treasures in a sandbox for the child to find. Put letters in plastic Easter eggs and they have to put the letters together that spell treat the child will receive. (ideas: a walk with grandma, bike riding at the park, etc.)
- Dig shapes in the sandbox and then decorate with items found around the house. Pour inexpensive plaster of paris into the shape and wait to dry. When it’s pulled out it will be a sandy relief that can be hung on the wall (if you remember to put a paper clip in the plaster of paris on the top before it dries J)
- Get to go shopping with a parent as an only child. Give him/her a special task to look for something that you are seeking. For example: “Here’s a picture of a blue blouse that I’m trying to find. Help me look for something that looks like this.”
- Take all the kids to grandma and grandpa’s except one and let that child stay home with mom and dad and be “only child” for the weekend. The other kids will get spoiled with lots of attention by grandma and grandpa and the “only child” will get lots of attention from mom and dad. (If you don’t have grandma and grandpa nearby- trade with another family taking turns to keep each other’s children. )
- Download a fun recipe and let your child help you make that recipe as a surprise for the rest of the family that evening. (Put up signs that say “Secret Cooking in Progress. Must have special pass to enter the kitchen.”
- Surprise your child with a scavenger hunt around the house. If he/she reads, give him/her written clues hinting as to where the next card is hiding. At the end have him/her find a note that reveals a prize. (If your child can’t read, you can use pictures. )
- Make a story on the computer with your child using Microsoft’s PowerPoint program. Let your child be the star of the story.
- Let your child take the digital camera out in the back yard and then come back in and turn those pictures into a story on the computer. Help him/her print the book for a distant family member.
- Go outside and collect cool leaves and flowers. Come inside and put those leaves and flowers between two sheets of wax paper. The parent will iron these two sheets together and create placemats for everyone in the family for the evening.
- Start a family story at the dinner table and each person in the family has to tell a part of the story. The child being rewarded gets to start and end the story.
- Let your child earn 5 minutes of either staying up later or sleeping in in the morning. Use that time to read together if they stay up later.
- Play secretary and let your child dictate a story to you. Type up the story and send it out to some relatives who will call them and tell them how much they liked the story.
- Write a story for your child where the child or his/her personal hero is a character in the story.
- Change the screen saver on your computer to say, “My child is the greatest. ” …or something that would make him/her feel good about themselves. Do this at your office and then take a picture of it or take your child to your office on the weekend and let him/her see it.
- Let your child help you do the laundry and then pay him/her with a special dessert for dinner. Be sure to say, “Since you helped me save time by helping me fold the laundry, I have time to make this special dessert for dinner.”
- Help your child organize his/her room giving him/her a mnemonic to help remember where things go- for instance teach him/her the color order of the rainbow and then teach him/her to hang up his/her clothes in color groups matching the order of the rainbow (ROYGBIV). Later on when you catch him/her hanging up clothes in the correct place draw a “rainbow” award for the good work and put it on his/her door as a surprise when he/she comes home.
- Have the bedroom fairy come while they are at school and choose the bedroom that is the neatest. Hang a fairy from the doorway of the room that is the neatest and that person gets to sit in “Dad’s chair” to read that night. (or something that would be appropriate at your house).
- Mystery grab bag. Take an old pillowcase and put slips of paper inside listing some of the prizes on this page and let the child draw out the prize he/she is going to get for his/her behavior reward.
- Let your child dictate where you drive on the way home from a location. In other words, they have to tell you turn left here…turn right here. If they happen to steer you into a Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Parlor, it wouldn’t be a horrible thing to stop and have a family treat together.
- Give your child a special piece of jewelry that belongs to you to keep and wear for the day. (Nothing that costs a lot of money- but something that looks like it is special to you.) The child will feel special all day long.
- Take your children to the library one at a time and give them special one on one time at the library checking out books or listening to stories.
- Sign your child up for acting lessons (they have to have earned this privilege).
- Take your child to an art gallery and then have him/her draw a picture of his/her favorite painting or statue. Possibly stage a mini art gallery tour of the child’s work for relatives who are coming to visit. Serve cheese and grape juice.
- Take your child to the university astronomy lab. Help him/her place stars on the ceiling of his/her room in their favorite constellation. If possible paint the stars with “glow in the dark” paint.
Adapted from "Non-Medicated Interventions for Learners with ADHD," by Laura A. Riffel, Ph.D.
Anxiety/ School Refusal Tips
- Identify triggers of anxiety/refusal.
- Ensure student attends school on a daily basis.
- Try to have a different adult bring the child to school if possible to see if that reduces anxiety/related emotions.
- Speak calmly but firmly to the child (i.e. “I’m sorry you feel that way, but you must go to school. I’ll be so happy to see you after school.”). Don’t argue with any of the complaints child is making.
- Create a transition plan from arrival at school to the classroom.
- Have your child self-monitor amount of time spent transitioning into school each day and the associated feelings.
- Brainstorm a list of personal worries and have your child prioritize them from the most to least troubling, eliminating duplicates and consolidating overlapping items.
- Establish a morning routine to help organize and prepare for the school day.
- Ask your child to visualize what a perfect day at school would look and feel like. Compare the perfect day with his/her actual experience and brainstorm ways to improve each school day.
- Identify alternative methods for your child to interpret and cope with each school situation that creates stress.
- Brainstorm a list of current and future benefits to attending school and negative results of limited attendance.
- Reinforce your child’s academic, family, and social successes by drawing, photographing, and/or displaying a completed project that triggers personal pride.
- Identify and record several self-talk statements that can be used during various situations to decrease worry.
- Identify how stress is manifested in physical symptoms.
- Teach relaxation techniques.
- Increase recognition of and encouragement of the student and reinforce his/her active attempts to attend school and build positive self-esteem (i.e. “I noticed that you _________.”).
Adapted from The School Counseling and School Social Work Treatment Planner by Sarah Edison Knapp and Arthur E. Jongsma, Jr.