6-Second Pause

UDL 4.1

A 6-Second pause is an self-regulation tool a student can use to gain self-control during an emotionally-charged or escalating situation. The 6-second pause strategy supports emotional regulation by creating a moment in which the student can force his brain to put emotions "on hold" and then engage his "thinking brain" so that he is able to choose a constructive response to his emotions. During a 6-second pause, the student engages the analytical part of his brain for at least 6 seconds (the minimum about of time needed to create an emotional interruption) by participating in higher-order thinking. He can do this by recalling 6 math facts, naming 6 friends or thinking of 6 favorite foods. Within 6 seconds, the student's emotional response to the situation is interrupted and his analytical (e.g. logic and reasoning) response is activated.

Ready-to-Use Resources


6-Second Pause Posters

A set of posters for supporting students in using a 6-second pause. Posters define and describe the benefits of using a 6-second pause. Also included are ideas for when to use a 6-second pause and how to activate the "thinking brain."

Grade 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 · Listening, Speaking, Behavior & SEL · 3 pages

Implementation Tips

Teacher and Peer Modeling through Think-Aloud
A student may be more inclined to engage in a 6-second pause during an authentic moment of agitation if the teacher or a peer initiates the strategy. The teacher can "think-aloud" her own 6-second pause (e.g. "I am going to pause for 6-seconds and count 6 pizza toppings: sausage, pepperoni...") in an effort to engage the student in the strategy.
More Information about 6-second Pause
For more information about the science behind the 6-second pause, visit [[|]]


Test Anxiety
A student who experiences test anxiety can be taught to self-implement a 6-second pause when the anxiety becomes overwhelming. The student may have a persistent visual reminder on her desk reminding her to engage in a 6-second pause during testing.
Oppositional Behavior
A student who engages in oppositional behavior when agitated can use the 6-second pause to reconsider her responses to a peer or adult during an interaction. The teacher can support the student by verbally reminding her to engage in a 6-second pause when she begins to appear agitated.
Peer Mediation
When two (or more) students experiencing conflict with each other are participating in peer mediation, the 6-second pause strategy can be used to promote self-calming during the peer mediation sessions and prevent or halt emotional escalation between students.

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