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Printable handout

10 Ways to promote self regulation every day


Survey of child preferences

Came across a nice survey for gathering preference information on children. It gathers information about favorite things, feelings indicators, socialization, choices, body clock, health, and family member roles. Have a look: child-preference-indicators


Some FREE apps to practice self-regulation

Many thanks to Joselynne Jaques, of Hope Therapies, for her app suggestions.


Hand self-regulation
  • Hand Drums – tap on the drums at different intensities, speeds and rhythms to practice control of hands







  • Darbuka (goblet) drums – a slightly different sounding drum for practising different intensities, speeds and rhythms













Voice self-regulation
  • Bla Bla Bla – provides visual feedback about the loudness of your voice – the visual images are a little odd so choose carefully to make sure it’s not frightening







  • Class Monster – intended for a group setting, gives cute visual feedback about the loudness of voices








Calming visuals
  • Fluid – run your fingers over the surface and watch the water ripple








  • Zen View – a number of different background images with water overlay that moves when you run your fingers over the screen; can add rain at varying intensities











  • Draw with Stars – trails of stars emerge as you run your fingers over the screen








  • Fluid Dynamics – run your fingers over the screen and colors will emerge and merge









Calming sounds
  • Relax Melodies – choose different sounds to combine or play one at a time





Breathing for calming and centering







  • RespiRelax – simple visual guides breathing in and out
















We’ll keep adding more apps. Stay tuned.

Please let us know if you found a helpful app. Just remember, the app should be free.

Game and Activity Resource

This looks like a nice resource for different types of games and activities for practicing self-regulation and resilience. Have a look.

Always REMEMBER: learning is a process

All learning takes time and practice.

Many children need time to think about new learning, new actions and new songs before they’ll join in.  This is especially true of children with autism. Model the actions and songs for him as often as you can, making sure it’s fun and upbeat. Even if he doesn’t seem to be watching and listening, he likely is. You can test it out by occasionally missing or changing a word. See if he notices.

An interesting thing I’ve found over the years is that some children think that things learned at home should stay at home and things learned at school should stay at school. That means they might refuse to practice a ‘school thing’ at home and vice versa. In the beginning, you may have to ask the child’s teacher to tell him “it’s okay” to do the same things at home. You may have to do the same for things learned at home – “Mom says it’s okay to do this at school”.

All children need time to practice with other people and on their own.  I have videotaped myself or the child doing the actions or song so he can view it over and over.

Don’t expect perfection right away.  Help the child understand that it takes time and practice to learn things and that making an ‘oops’ is part of learning. Model yourself making a mistake and how you can just tell yourself it’s part of learning.

Notice (out loud) when the child is putting in effort to do things. Rejoice with with him in every improvement.

Rules of thumb for helping children with autism learn

  • Show the child a new skill up to three times.
  • If he doesn’t do it successfully after three tries, stop and try another approach.
  • Once he seems to do the new skill, help him practice it up to four times.
  • If he can’t do it successfully, try doing something else or try another approach.

These rules keep the child feeling successful. If he can’t do what we are asking, maybe we aren’t teaching it right or the task isn’t right.

Also, once he learns a skill and can do it successfully, move on to more complex and challenging ones.  Practicing the same old thing over and over isn’t much fun for anyone!

Promoting self-regulation at home and in the community
Catch your child using self-regulation. Whenever it happens, try to notice. It’s not easy, though. In order to notice self-regulation, you have to think about what  could have happened. You might notice that he flipped through a book gently without tearing it or that he didn’t hit his friend when the friend was bugging him.

When you notice your child controlling himself, say something like, “You really controlled your hands. Well done!”  To emphasize increasing self-regulation, occasionally add a comment  like, “You really know how to control your hands. Nice job.”

Always keep it positive.


Before you practice self-regulation with any child …

Always make sure s/he CAN.

CAN stands for:

C – Calm—the child is calm and not stressed or anxious

A- Alert—the child is alert, awake and not sleepy or feeling sick

N – Nourished—the child has eaten something nourishing within 2 to 2 1/2 hours of your practice time – check out The Eating Game to help in this area

By making sure the child CAN, the practice times will be positive and fun for all.


Questionnaires for looking at self-regulation

There are some interesting questionnaires for looking at self-determination/self-regulation in children. Among them are:

AIR Self-Determination Scale – for students, for parents and for teachers

Self-Determination Theory website has many questionnaires related to self-regulation in different areas of a person’s life, perceived autonomy, intrinsic motivation, self-determination, mindful awareness and many others. Most are intended for older children and adults.


Other resources

Some wonderful resources for people with special needs who are Jewish can be found at Gateways, access to Jewish education. Be sure to have a look.


eating game logo_new2 A beautifully organized visual system for engaging children in meal planning