Strategy

Calming Strategies

Self-Regulation

UDL 5.3

A calming strategy is a self-regulation tool that can be taught to a student or group of students to use or implement when facing difficult or challenging situations. The calming strategy supports the student in making a choice other than the student’s typical response. There are many calming strategies including deep breathing, muscle relaxation, visual imagery, self-coaching, taking a break, sensory support. In order for these calming strategies to be effective during the stressful situation, it is best to teach and practice with the student ahead of time in non-stressful situations. In addition, visual cues (hand signal, visual cue card, visual behavior poster) can be incorporated to remind the student to use the calming strategy when encountering the difficult situation.

Ready-to-Use Resources

Self-Regulation Tool

Count: Calming Strategy Poster

Count calming strategy poster for students needing sensory calming techniques. The poster includes an illustration along with a description of how, why and when to use the strategy.

Grade 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 · Behavior & SEL · 1 pages


Self-Regulation Tool

Deep Breaths: Calming Strategy Poster

Deep Breaths calming strategy poster for students needing sensory calming techniques. The poster includes an illustration along with a description of how, why and when to use the strategy.

Grade 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 · Behavior & SEL · 1 pages


Self-Regulation Tool

Deep Pressure: Calming Strategy

Deep Pressure Calming Strategy poster for students needing sensory calming techniques. The poster includes an illustration along with a description of how, why and when to use the strategy.

Grade 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 · Behavior & SEL · 1 pages


Self-Regulation Tool

Move Your Body: Calming Strategy Poster

Move Your Body calming strategy poster for students needing sensory calming techniques. The poster includes an illustration along with a description of how, why and when to use the strategy.

Grade 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 · Behavior & SEL · 1 pages


Self-Regulation Tool

Take a Break: Calming Strategy Poster

Take a Break calming strategy poster for students needing sensory calming techniques. The poster includes an illustration along with a description of how, why and when to use the strategy.

Grade 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 · Behavior & SEL · 1 pages


Implementation Tips

Identify Specific Situations
Know your student and what types of situations and activities are anxiety producing for the student. Map out some possible calming strategies that may work for the student in these situations and begin to teach 1 or 2 strategies. When possible, have students learn and identify the triggers themselves, so that they can use the strategy and self-identify, and communicate his/her need to use strategy. At first teachers may remind the student when to use these strategies and gradually fade support as the student is able to use and incorporate strategies on his/her own.
Involve the Whole Class
Many of the calming strategies can be taught during whole classroom or small group instruction. The more students that you have on board with learning and incorporating the calming strategies in the classroom, the more involved you may find the students who struggle the most with anxiety, triggering or challenging situations as they will be encouraged to practice these strategies with other students in the classroom.
Visual Cues and Checklists
After teaching the student the calming strategy, use visual cues or a task checklist to remind the student to use the calming strategies during stressful or challenging situations.

Examples

Deep Belly Breathing - Test-taking
A student is taught to take deep breaths prior to and during test-taking which is anxiety producing for the student. With deep belly breathing it helps if the student focuses on something other than his/her thoughts and calms the "fight or flight" part of the brain. Calming of the mind through deep belly breathing helps the student to access his/her knowledge about the academic material. In this way, he is able to approach test-taking in a calm and responsive state. For deep breathing, the student stands still and slowly inhales, filling lungs to capacity. After holding breath, he/she slowly exhales in approximately five counts.
Count to Ten – Conflict with another student
Instead of reacting to another student’s words, a student learns to use "Count to Ten" as a way to slow down and think. This interruption serves to stop impulsive behavior. A student may want to count silently, count backwards or raise fingers while saying numbers out loud. Counting to 10 can prevent a student from impulsively reacting or saying something that s/he later regrets.
Visual imagery technique – Going on a Field Trip
A student is very challenged when facing new situations, such as going on a field trip to the local museum. Prior to the field trip, the teacher walks the entire class through a guided visual imagery of what the trip is going to be like including getting on and off the bus, walking into the museum, going to different exhibits, eating lunch, etc. This helps the students to know what to expect and walks the student through a schedule of the field trip. The teacher makes sure to include any areas that might produce or cause anxiety for the student.

Related Strategies