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5 minutes






To help students pay attention to their emotions and better regulate their responses to situations

  • Explain why it’s important to be able to recognize and label our emotions and manage our day-to-day stressors. One way to do this is by using an acronym.
  • Ask students to brainstorm an acronym (as a class, in pairs or individually) that will act as prompts to recognize emotions, as well as provide strategies for managing emotions.
    • example: RAIN (recognize, accept, inquire, nourish)
  • Periodically instruct students to provide examples of if or how they’ve used the acronym, or when it might be used it to keep them attuned to their emotions.

Behavioural self-regulation involves focusing attention, engaging working memory, and controlling sudden responses that can disrupt the emotional climate of the classroom, and inhibit learning (Metz et al., 2013). Mindfulness techniques allow students to practice acceptance of their internal states, their external environment, and their peers. Guided breathing exercises, which include pausing and breathing in through the nose, are an effective tool to help students regulate emotions (Metz et al., 2013; Embry & Birglan, 2008). These exercises decrease physiological arousal, so students feel less anxiety and stress which helps them to refocus their attention on learning (Gregoski et al., 2011; Embry & Biglan, 2008). Students who engage in mindfulness at school experience improvements in focus, maintaining attention, regulating emotions, and they have more favourable social interactions (Felver et al., 2016).

Embry, D. D., & Biglan, A. (2008). Evidence-based kernels: fundamental units of behavioral influence. Clinical child and family psychology review, 11(3), 75–113. doi:10.1007/s10567-008-0036-x

Felver, J. C., Celis-de Hoyos, C. E., Tezanos, K., & Singh, N. N. (2016). A Systematic Review of Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Youth in School Settings. Mindfulness, 7(1), 34-45. doi:10.1007/s12671-015-0389-4

Gregoski, M. J., Barnes, V. A., Tingen, M. S., Harshfield, G. A., & Treiber, F. A. (2011). Breathing Awareness Meditation and Life Skills Training Programs Influence Upon Ambulatory Blood Pressure and Sodium Excretion Among African American Adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 48(1), 59-64. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2010.05.019

Metz, S. M., Frank, J. L., Reibel, D., Cantrell, T., Sanders, R., & Broderick, P. C. (2013). The Effectiveness of the Learning to BREATHE Program on Adolescent Emotion Regulation. Research in Human Development, 10(3), 252-272. doi:10.1080/15427609.2013.818488″