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5 Step method of Self-Reg - An Acrostic Poem

By Sandi McCulloch


Read and reframe behaviour in self and others while applying all 5 steps of Self-Reg.

Erase assumptions – this affects our actions and feelings when dealing with a child. First ask 'WHY am I seeing this behaviour?' And 'WHY NOW?'. Remember “When you see a child differently, you will see a different child”. Aim to use softer eyes when looking at the child. Misbehaviour is stress behaviour.

Initiate change in how we are thinking and applying strategies. Share ideas so that it can be a team approach.

Never give up, continue to change the mindset and children’s trajectory.

Get rid of the idea that a child is trying, on purpose, to make us angry.


Remember that Self-Reg is a process that needs to be worked on.

Ensure to look at your own stresses and how it affects the way you react to a child.

Cognitive blinders may be getting in the way of seeing a child’s potential.

Observe stress behaviours (i.e. freezing when being talked to, nail biting, fidgeting, agitation, avoiding others, low energy, insomnia, grinding teeth, diarrhea, pain, nervousness, changes in appetite, etc.).

Getting to know more about the importance of the 5 Domains - Biological, Emotion, Cognitive, Social and Prosocial. All 5 need to be looked at when searching for stressors.

Never too late to learn Self-Reg and it’s benefits.

Increasing knowledge and watching for signs of fight, flight, and freeze. All are stress behaviours.

Zero in on what a child is trying to tell us.

Identifies and analyzes significant stressors as part of a 5 domain system in self and others while applying all 5 steps of Self-Reg.

Never forget to be a stress detective.

Get help when needed. Use others to help support you when stressors are too much.


Relationships are key.

Enhance stress awareness – look for hidden stressors.

Dysregulation occurs when stress levels are high and energy levels are low. Systems of thinking and recovery are compromised. Knowing this will help when seeing a changes to physical well being, mood, behaviour and attention of a child.

Understanding that strategies need to be applied individually and with a “whole group appropriate”.

Children are different, so we have to have tailored strategies for reducing stress.

Include everyone when trying to reduce the stressors (i.e. all of the children, educators, staff, coaches, etc.).

Need to support the child to recognize what it feels like to be calm and what it feels like when they become overstressed or overwhelmed.

Goal is to lower the stress load experienced by self and others by taking action to reduce and remove identified stressors as part of the application of the 5 steps of Self-Reg.


Remember a child may not be ready to do something, YET – continue to change your thinking from a negative to a positive.

Energy and tension management and understanding stress is Self-Reg and the process we want to be working on.

Figuring out why the child’s stress is high.

Learning that stress (positive or negative) is not the problem; stress beyond what a child or adult has the resources to manage is our concern.

Engage in reflection often throughout the day – what is working, helping, and why? Change what is not working.

Children do not choose to act this way, with stress behaviour.

Treating behaviour as misbehaviour means we punish. Treating behaviours as stress behaviour means we help.

Include many ways to reduce stressors – there is no single set way to do Self-Reg.

Nothing is set in stone – A child’s trajectory can be changed.

Gain knowledge by being a stress detective.


Respond, Restore, and Recover.

Energy focused teacher is a goal.

Self-Reg is not Self control - Self-Reg is not about managing behaviour; getting children to comply. In self control we are limiting/changing/concealing our reaction to a stressor. Self-Reg is a powerful method for understanding stress and managing energy levels.

Practice mindfulness and ways to calm.

Over all, educators need to apply adaptive coping strategies from the personal/individual Self-Reg toolbox to respond to excessive stress. Applies personal strategies to restore energy.

No suppressing problematic behaviours. We want to finds ways to support managing and coping with stressors.

Develop personal strategies to promote resilience and restoration.

Identifies the practices that are restorative to personal energy stores for self or others.

No magic wand or quick fix – we need to work through the process.

Goal is to shift children from being co-regulated to self-regulation.

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