Select Page

Originally posted September 11th, 2021

It was the end of the school day, and kids were slowly starting to get cleaned up and organized for home. That’s when I turned around and I noticed one of our SK students over at the pile of watercolour paints. He was pouring blue water on top of each puck of paint. This was creating a huge flood in the bin of paint pucks. Why?

I wish that I could tell you that I calmly went over to figure out why he was doing this. I didn’t. No doubt about it: this flood in the midst of clean up time, with the knowledge that I had to leave school at a reasonable time and cleaning up this mess was not going to help with this, made me feel very dysregulated. In retrospect …

  • I should have went to my teaching partner, Paula, and asked if she could investigate.
  • I should have taken a deep breath first and considered how I wanted to respond.
  • Maybe I should have even walked away.

I did none of these things. Instead I went up to him and said, “What’s happening? Why are you doing this? You know better.” And that’s when he melted. He threw down his set of paint pucks. He went over to his desk space, hid underneath it, and started to rip up every one of the pictures that he made at school. Every single one. Oh no!

This made me realize, I exacerbated this problem. There was stress behaviour at play, and even though I’ve read about Self-Reg, taken the Foundations 1 course, blog on The MEHRIT Centre Blog regularly, and have listened to numerous recordings of Stuart Shanker and Susan Hopkins discussing this very topic, I missed the mark. Now what?

I gave him a chance to just be. I brought over the garbage can, and started to help clean up the desk space. I invited him to help me. Understandably, considering the stressors at play, he ignored me. I then noticed some garbage on the floor and some markers. I asked him which one he could clean up. He pointed to the markers, so I took the garbage and left. He did pick up the markers, and then went back to flipping through a book at his desk. Could this be Self-Reg in action?

He seemed better when he left, and asked me for help with his backpack, but I still don’t know what triggered him. Paula and I discussed possibilities.

  • Could it be my prep time in the middle of the day, which coincided with Paula’s lunch, so we were both out of the classroom?
  • Did he need a sensory option, and could I have supported this in another way?
  • After a full day, with a long block in the classroom, was he tired? Frustrated? Could I have helped break things up for him with another option?
  • Was he looking for some adult attention/support? Could I have given it to him in another way?
  • Did the dysregulating nature of clean-up time increase his stress? Is there a way to make this time less stressful for him?

I don’t know what the answer is, or if I missed the problem altogether. I do know that this is all that I could think about as I washed those paint pucks on Friday after school. Now to look more closely on Monday and try to figure things out. This was a good reminder for me that as much as we might know about Self-Reg, we can all make mistakes. Have you? Here’s to catching myself next week before I make another one.


For more on how mistakes can happen when practicing Self-Reg, read Aviva’s blog here

Self-Reg Seeds Learning Journey Symbol of a seed sprouting 2 leafs

What is Self-Reg?

Self-Reg is a pathway to calm, resilience, motivation, learning, & well-being.

Early Years



The Shanker Method

5 Domain Framework

Free Self-Reg 101 Webinar

Our Mission & Values

About Stuart Shanker

Self-Reg Sunrise Learning Journey symbol of a sunrise over a leaf

Explore how learning Shanker Self-Reg can help your approach to behaviour, dysregulation, emotions and any of the challenges that brought you to Self-Reg as a someone who cares.

Level 1 Certificate Programs

*NEW* Education Assistants

Early Childhood Development

Self-Reg Foundations

School Leadership

ASK Courses

*NEW* Gray Brain Science

Reframing Bullying

Enhancing Resilience

Self-Reg Parenting

Learning for Teams

On-Demand Webinars

Upcoming Events

Summer Symposium

Book a Presenter

Self-Reg Quilt Learning Journey Symbol of a leaf in a patch of a quilt

Self-Reg can be practical, community based and woven with other initiatives, movements or priorities. How can you bring Self-Reg to your community or context?

What is Applied Self-Reg Knowledge?

Blogs & Vlogs


Webinars & Upcoming Events

School Leadership Certificate

Learning Facilitator's Certificate

Living, Learning & Linking Certificate

Self-Reg Schools Handbook


Mentoring & Consulting

Self-Reg Haven Learning Journey Symbol of two hands holding and nurturing a leaf up

Havens are our dream for all! A Self-Reg Haven is a place where everyone feels safe in every way: physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally.

I Know a Haven When I Find One

5 Self-Reg Haven Look Fors

Havens 101: Group Learning

RADAR Project Planning Tool

Self-Reg Schools Handbook

A fist in fromt of a brain all coloured blue, rad and gray in line with the Triune Brain

Reframing Stress Behaviour with Gray Brain Science

Certificate Program Starts August 1st

Facilitated Certificates

Self-Directed Courses

On-Demand Webinars

Events - Live & Online

Tools & Strategies

Speakers & Presentations

Books & Publications

Blogs & Vlogs


Graphics with Blogs



Translated Resources

Media Releases

Meet Our Team


Contact Us