Children with dysregulation, characterised by difficulties in regulating emotions, thoughts, and behaviours, often confront challenging learning environments. Recognising the neurological roots of dysregulation, it’s crucial for teachers to employ effective behaviour management strategies, fostering a supportive academic setting.
Dysregulation occurs when regions of the brain responsible for emotional regulation, such as the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus, aren’t operating optimally. The result can be an emotional rollercoaster for the child, with happiness quickly morphing into anger or sadness. These children may lack the necessary tools to navigate their emotions effectively, akin to attempting to cross a stormy sea without a compass.
In the post-pandemic world, the term “dysregulated” has gained more recognition as a key descriptor of the emotional states of children struggling with the aftermath of the global disruption, due to the disruption of routines, prolonged social isolation, and heightened stress and anxiety. Traumatic experiences, such as the illness or death of a loved one, and decreased access to supportive resources, like school counselling, further contribute to emotional and behavioural dysregulation. Additionally, the shift to online learning and reduced outdoor activities resulted in increased screen time, which can further exacerbate these issues. The pandemic was a difficult period of time for everyone – it’s no wonder that children in critical stages of development may have been impacted to the degree that they may still be struggling to re-adjust to ‘normal’ life.
Key signs of dysregulation include frequent meltdowns, difficulties transitioning, impulsivity, aggression, or excessive fear and anxiety. These children may display unpredictable behaviour and intense emotional outbursts. Early identification of these signs is vital to manage their impact on the learning environment and provide effective support.
Dysregulation’s Impact on Learning
Children suffering from dysregulation often struggle academically and socially. Their compromised cognitive abilities make it difficult for them to focus, retain information, and follow instructions. This daily struggle can severely hinder their educational progress and overall well-being. In addition to this, dysregulation caused by the disruption of the pandemic for example, leads to exacerbations of other mental health conditions that a child may already be experiencing, such as ADHD.
Strategies for Managing Dysregulation
Teachers play a central role in managing dysregulation. By fostering strong teacher-student relationships and creating a predictable environment, they can significantly support these students.
- Creating a Predictable Environment: Establishing clear rules, routines, and expectations can provide a sense of safety and stability for dysregulated children. Visual aids like schedules or cues can further reduce anxiety and promote self-regulation.
- Implementing a Reward System: A clear reward system can motivate and reinforce positive behaviours. The rewards, tailored to individual student preferences, can encourage engagement and foster self-control and emotional regulation skills.
- Teaching Self-Regulation Skills: Providing a toolkit of strategies, like deep breathing exercises, mindfulness techniques, and problem-solving frameworks, can help manage emotions and behaviours effectively. These methods can empower students to navigate their emotional landscape confidently.
- Using Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Regularly incorporating mindfulness and relaxation activities, like guided imagery or yoga, can promote calmness, self-awareness, and distress tolerance.
Providing mental health services and safe spaces for children to express their feelings can greatly support those who are dysregulated. These services help by validating their emotions, teaching coping strategies, and promoting resilience, leading to better emotional regulation and overall well-being.
Importance of Early Identification and Intervention
The early identification of dysregulation is crucial for enhancing the learning outcomes of affected children. When teachers are observant and understand the tell-tale signs of dysregulation – including frequent meltdowns, difficulty transitioning between activities, impulsivity, aggression, withdrawal, or excessive fear and anxiety – they can intervene promptly and provide necessary support.
Early intervention empowers teachers to pre-empt escalating behaviours and work on effective management strategies. This includes the development of clear rules, routines, and expectations to create a stable environment, the application of motivational tools like reward systems, and the teaching of self-regulation skills, including mindfulness and relaxation techniques.
Collaboration with Parents and Professionals
Teachers alone do not shoulder the responsibility for managing dysregulation. Parents and professionals, like school counsellors and psychologists, also play pivotal roles. Parents can reinforce positive behaviour management techniques at home, while counsellors and psychologists offer individualised strategies and counselling services.
How teamSOS can support in Managing Dysregulation
In this collaborative endeavour, TeamSOS emerges as an invaluable tool for streamlining the management of dysregulation. This platform enables teachers to report signs of behavioural dysregulation, creating a comprehensive record that all staff can access. This shared understanding allows all teachers to track progress, intervene early, and take special considerations into account for affected students – making sure no student is missed or left behind.
Ultimately, by recognising dysregulation, intervening early, and implementing well-defined behaviour management strategies, teachers can create an environment that supports the emotional well-being and academic success of all students. Through this concerted effort, children with dysregulation can be given every opportunity to thrive, both academically and emotionally.
Who we are at teamSOS
- A groundbreaking incident management solution purpose-built for schools.
- An affordable and GDPR compliant app accessible via all devices, allowing schools to leverage existing tech already in classrooms and staff hands.
- Streamline routine requests and emergency responses with our in-app Call for Help feature, accessible from any device. Two simple clicks enable staff to brief the right responders using 2-way communication, live audio, location sharing, and more. Tackle Behavioural concerns, Safeguarding concerns, Medical emergencies, Lockdowns, and everything in-between.
- Live Audio and Voice-to-text features replace out-dated radios and bring your communication channels into the 21st century.
- Optimise your staff response with our interactive Tasks feature. As an incident unfolds, teamSOS provides accessible, in-incident supporting materials for all responders, offering real-time guidance.
- Stay connected with our secure Messaging system. Beyond incident reporting, staff can dynamically communicate through pre-set or custom groups.
- Host and distribute your organisation’s content with Guidance. Monitor staff progress with our Heatmap reports and take advantage of free content packs from our expert partners, including offline-accessible bite-sized videos for medical emergencies.
- Gain unparalleled insights with our instant, rich-media Evidence reporting. Our Live Dashboards provide real-time, organisation-wide visibility, meaning leadership are always informed and are able to advise from anywhere.
- Equip your staff with Smart Buttons that can be worn on a lanyard or concealed in discreet locations. With built-in GPS, they provide a fast and reliable way for users to raise an alert, enhancing staff safety and response times.