Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Teaching Self-Regulation by Modeling


When teachers explicitly recognize and respond to their emotions in class, students learn to engage in these processes themselves.

Our How Learning Happens video series explores teaching practices grounded in the science of learning and human development. To see more, visit

This series was produced by Edutopia in collaboration with the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development ( with support from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (

Special Thanks:
The Science of Learning and Development Initiative
Turnaround for Children:
Learning Policy Institute:
American Institutes for Research:
EducationCounsel:



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9 comments

  • There are many things about this video that I like, but, as others have pointed out, the teacher is using some problematic tactics, like saying "my heart hurts" when a kid is not paying attention. It blames the child for her emotions and also is likely hyperbolic, i.e. she's exaggerating her emotional state, which is not helpful when teaching kids how to identify their emotions.

    Also, she sometimes says she is feeling things that aren't feelings. For example, @ 0:52 she says "it feels like you're not ready to listen to me." That is an interpretation, not a feeling, and it is important to know the difference so that constructive communication can take place.

  • The skill she is teaching is how to manage other people's emotions, not regulate your own. Another way she could approach this is to say: I feel anxious right now, I'm going to take a deep breath. She could then describe what she did and invite the kiddos to try it, providing feedback. This is know as behavior skills training and is one of the most effective ways to teach a new skill. I do not think it is appropriate in a teacher-student relationship to say "my heart hurts when you do not look at me", because the teacher is centering herself completely in that context and making the child's behaviors about her.

  • Teachers who don't have the tools to regulate themselves cannot reguale others.

  • This video is a blessing as a parent of 2 young boys. ❤

  • Noted = Self controled = self regulation

  • People in the comments talking very empathically about what the teacher's actions might cause the child to feel like, yes I think you have a point, because what I learnt from Stephen Fry was: "The people who are wise and witful and [listed many other virtues] are always the ones who make YOU feel wise and witful [etc,] " I think it's also proved with the science of positive psychology, which time and again shows that when you show someone's strengths and don't talk about their weaknesses they learn better.

    Now, I think there is also the time for constructive criticism, but I honestly think we need to wait until the student asks for it, because if they are not ready for it we might accidentally damage their self-esteem and – in long term – their happiness. Because even though we know that our worth is not the same as the grades we get, it really feels like it is, I think it's a some kind of psychological illusion and I would like to learn why it is that way. To get a grade F feels like a stamp to our personality, and doesn't help us grow at all, and to get detailed talk about how you suck might feel even worse.

  • It’s great to be able to name emotions, but self-regulation is about understanding stress and managing energy and tension, most emotions that are really negative come from stressors. Without reframing misbehaviour as stress behaviour and looking at the whys and why nows, then the root of problems, such as having a hard time paying attention, are not addressed. Teachers need to be coregulators with kids. If the teacher is being bothered (my heart hurts) by typical behaviours that need reminders every now and then, then she needs to look at what is draining her energy.

  • I love this video, it's perfect to show children how to feel their emotions.

  • I really disagree with the way she manipulates the children with her emotions. "My heart hurts when you don't listen to me." This is awful and sets kids up for a life of anxiety about other people's emotions. She should take responsibility for her emotions. "I can see you're not hearing me, and part of me is upset because I want to be heard, but I understand that we've been sitting down for a long time and it might be hard to concentrate for so long." Would be better

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