Brain-Based Emotional Regulation Strategies for Kids with ADHD

 Edutopia.org recently wrote about how to use six brain-based strategies to help kids with ADHD regulate emotions.

Here are summaries of my two favorite strategies:

It Takes a Village: Bringing in adult community members who have experienced ADHD, anxiety, or other attentional challenges is a wonderful way for students to feel connected and hopeful about their future and plans for success.

Chunking: Chunking or condensing assignments and instructional time with frequent feedback is an excellent way to build on small successes. Students diagnosed with attention challenges may require a smaller list of tasks to complete within a structured, shorter period of time.

By bringing in adults who can speak to the challenges your students may face, you can help your students understand themselves better. Instead of feeling alone and hopeless, your students can see that it is possible to overcome setbacks in school and go on to be successful adults. Some programs, like Project Eye to Eye, have college students mentor younger students to help build confidence and self-awareness. In SMARTS we have implemented a peer coaching model, where students who are in the same school coach each other to use executive function strategies in their work.

Chunking is another great strategy for supporting students with learning differences. When you ask a student to complete a complicated task without breaking down the steps, you are pushing them beyond their ‘window of time.’ This can make the task seem impossible and leave students overwhelmed by frustration and anxiety. In college, students will be expected to be able to chunk assignments themselves; to prepare them, we need to scaffold this skill and explicitly teach strategies for breaking tasks down and prioritizing the steps.

What do you think of these strategies? Do you have suggestions for other ways to help students with emotional regulation? Let us know in the comments.

  • Elizabeth Ross, M.A., SMARTS Media Manager