I am a school psychologist in an underpriviledged area in upstate NY, where I work primarily with 6-8th graders. Many of my students come from working families who have limited time and resources. The students I work with struggle with regulating their emotions and utilizing appropriate coping mechanisms to deal with their emotions when frustrated. They often need a quiet and relaxing area to "cool down" in my office. Research shows that sensory items and calming products are effective in helping students with disabilities.
When given the right tools and environment, my students are able to appropriately express their frustrations and quickly learn different strategies to deal with their emotions.
One of the jobs of a school psychologist is to help students regulate their emotions appropriately. Self-regulation is the way we receive messages through our nervous system and then turn them into movements and behavioral responses that fit the current situation. Many of my students have difficulty controlling impulses as well as delaying their responses.
By providing my students with these calming items, I will be able to help them regulate their emotions and teach them appropriate coping mechanisms.
Squeeze balls, tangle fidgets, therapy bands, chewlery, popping frogs, bean bags, soothing music, timers, etc. are all types of calming down/sensory items proven to work with students with disabilities. It’s not until their emotions are regulated and are paying attention comfortably that they are able to access learning and the higher functions of the brain. It is for this reason that we cannot teach students or even reason with them when they are having behavioral issues or tantrums. We must wait for them to get to a calmer state in order for them to hear what we are saying.
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