Helpers Helping Helpers: Emotional Regulation Resource for Educators

This article highlights an excerpt from OhioGuidestone’s School Services Newsletter Connections: Your Guide to Thriving in the Pandemic with OhioGuidestone authored by School Services Assistant Director Mindy Kaminski.

Emotional regulation is the ability to effectively manage and respond to an emotional experience. Sometimes emotional dysregulation looks like temper tantrums or other disruptive behaviors–in both children and adults. Students who experience severe emotional dysregulation in school settings are often served by school-based mental health providers–and for good reason!

School-based mental health supports a child’s individual psycho-social needs, while also augmenting classroom environments. School-based mental health clinicians are helpers who obviously help children and families, but so often help classroom teachers as well. Helpers helping helpers.

But with the current pandemic shutting down Ohio schools, school-based mental health providers have been forced to shift their delivery of care. Like the rest of OhioGuidestone, the school-services department quickly shifted and adapted to telehealth since in-person visits were put on hold because of coronavirus risks. School-services administrators were also pushed to get innovative with how they supported school educators as they, too, had shifted to technology to serve students. How can teachers even help with student dysregulation over the computer? Mindy Kaminski, School Services Assistant Director, knew just what to do.

Recognizing the connection between the mind, body and brain, Mindy accepted that many children are stressed right now (this may be an understatement). And since cortisol and epinepherine, two hormones that flood the body when stressed and put into ‘fight or flight’ situations also lead to dysregulation, Mindy brainstormed options for managing. Exercise was the answer!

She looked for physical activities that could be offered to teachers as suggestions to still support children’s social emotional wellness, as this is a key element of learning. The tool had to be easily implemented, quick, and enjoyable by children. She came across the perfect option, a high intensity interval-training working for children. The 7-minute stop-and-start workout fit all of her needs- it was short, quick, would activate children’s bodies to manage dysregulation associated with cortisol and epinephrine, and could be easily shared with educators through the Connections newsletter.

The 7 Minute HIIT Workout for Kids includes frog jumps, bear walking, a gorilla shuffle, starfish jumps, a cheetah run, crab walking and elephant stomps! Teachers can add all or parts of the routine to their online classes, and even offer the activity to families to keep going at home.

Are you ready to do the 7 Minute HIIT Workout?

As we wrap up Teacher Appreciation Week 2020, we thank teachers for the the incredible work and role they play in the lives of children, families and communities. Covid-19 has launched many of us into new realms, introduced brand new obstacles, and even highlighted longstanding struggles in our lives. But teachers have continued to support the group who will bare the longest memory and impact of this pandemic: our children! And although it’s a week to appreciate teachers, we appreciate the mental health professionals that support children and educators in school settings, too. Thanks to OhioGuidestone’s and other providers’ school-based providers for continuing to be the helpers that help other helpers!

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