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Teacher Training Program Helps Children Regulate Emotions in the Classroom

Regulating emotions is a hard can be a challenging skill to learn. Uncontrolled emotions can make tasks harder for anybody, like a child in a classroom.

MU researchers have found that students are better able to regulate their emotions and act more socially competent when their teachers have gone through a training program focused on demonstrating pro-social classroom behavior.

Keith Herman and Wendy Reinke, MU College of Education professors, studied more than 100 teachers and 1,817 students from kindergarten to third grade to see if teachers could support and aid with students’ emotional and behavioral growth through the Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management Program.

The goal of the program is to advance the teacher’s classroom management strategies and promote children’s prosocial behavior and school readiness. The program focuses on how the teacher can effectively promote home-to-school consistency and support parents’ involvement at school.

The study found that teachers in the training group increased their positive interactions with students by 64 percent compared to 53 percent for teachers that did not receive the training.

“For students in those classrooms by the end of the year, they were more likely to show signs of social competence, development and also emotional regulation skill development in comparison to comparable children in those waitlist classrooms,” Keith Herman says.

After one year of implementing the program in classrooms, students were better able to regulate their emotions and had improved their social abilities, according to the study. Student competence increased from the 50th to the 56th percentile because of the improvements from the Incredible Years classrooms.

“Kids who develop the ability to regulate their emotions are more likely to engage in positive classroom behaviors,” Herman says. “When kids lack or fall behind in that emotional regulation development they’re more likely to engage in disruptive behaviors or be off-task in the classroom. They’re less likely to be fully exposed to instruction. Social and emotional development helps kids stay on task and learn more as result to perform better on academic tests.”

In MU College of Education, teachers are required to teach a behavior management class that teaches similar skills that the Incredible Years programs teach.