Teaching Self Management Skills in your 2022 Elementary Classroom

If you are an elementary teacher looking for tips and ideas for teaching self management skills, then you’ve found the right place! This post includes tons of information about the SEL topic, self management skills.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) created a social emotional learning (SEL) framework. This SEL framework includes five core competencies – one of which is self management skills. Teaching self management skills is an essential part of social emotional learning curriculum.

This post answers the following questions teachers have about teaching self management skills:

  • What are self management skills?
  • Why is teaching self management skills important?
  • How can I help my students improve their self management skills?
  • What are some tips I can share with my students’ families about helping their child improve their self management skills?

What is Self-Management? 

Self-management is the ability for a person to regulate their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in various situations. In doing this, they effectively manage stress, control impulses and motivate themselves. Self-management is also the ability to set and work toward both academic and personal goals. Understanding the emotions that you are feeling happens during self-awareness, and what you do about your feelings happens during self-management. 

Why is Self-Management Important?

Self-management is an extremely important SEL concept because when students have these skills then they have the capacity to regulate themselves. Self-regulation in the classroom is critical in all aspects of the day. Think about what your classroom would be like if students had no control over themselves, and think about how hard you try to teach them control. Self-management is the backbone of a classroom. It is also a skill that students will need for the rest of their lives, and is a skill that all people need and use daily. 

A Deeper Dive into Self-Management

Below is more information to know before teaching self management skills to your students.

Impulse control

Impulse control is the ability of a student to manage the behaviors that come from their emotions. It gives students the ability to say “no” to actions and behaviors that are not appropriate. They also can learn to control their emotions and use steps to calm down. 

Stress management

Stress is not an emotion that students can easily identify or understand. They often don’t understand that stress is the feeling that they are experiencing. Students need to be taught how to identify stress, then next comes management. Mindfulness practices and breathing exercises are a great way to teach students to manage their stress levels. Reflect with students on what made them feel stressed out and how to manage themselves before becoming overwhelmed. 


Let’s be honest, everyone is continuously working on self-discipline. If this is such a life-long skill, it makes sense that students need instruction and practice with it starting at an early age. Self-disciple has to do with a student’s ability to work towards achieving something and keeping themselves on track. It can also apply to being able to regulate themselves in the classroom by raising their hand to talk, staying focused on assignments, etc. Self-discipline is also so important because it fosters students coping with emotions in healthy ways. 


Self-motivation is your student’s ability to keep themselves moving towards a goal or accomplishing a task. Fostering self-motivation in your students doesn’t just help them in the classroom. It is a critical life long skill. Self-motivation is at the core of students being independent and achieving personal satisfaction. 


Goal-setting is critical in the classroom because it creates student-centered learning and creates awareness in students for what they are expected to learn, but gives them independence in how they are going to learn it. Students will need scaffolding on how to set appropriate goals for themselves. Self-motivation and self-discipline will help them work towards the goals that they set. Their self-confidence will grow as they achieve their goals and benchmarks towards meeting their goals. 

Organizational skills

Teach your students to be organized! They should be responsible for keeping their backpack, desk, work space, pencil box, and the classroom organized. Students should be able to access all the materials that they need without having to dig and dig through garbage. Now, students definitely need instruction on how to be organized. Model this for them by having an organized classroom and hold them responsible for keeping it organized. Students will definitely need scaffolding in this area as some students find organization to come naturally and others definitely do not. 

8 Strategies for Helping Kids Improve Self-Management

Below are 8 teaching strategies for helping students improve their self-management skills.

1. Create a regulating environment

The first strategy for teaching self managements skills on the list is to create a regulating environment. A regulating environment includes spaces that aren’t cluttered and overwhelming. This will help students regulate their bodies because they will be in an environment that supports regulation. Bright colors, too many decorations or things on the wall and disorganized places can create spaces that overwhelm kids. 

2. Greet each student

Greeting each student at the start of each day and using their name begins the process of calming and regulating their body and managing stress. Students feel a plethora of emotions when they come to school each day. Greeting them at the door helps to lower stress levels. It also helps students regulate what they are feeling.

3. Create a safe place in your room

Designate a space in your classroom where students can go when they need to take a break and regulate their emotions. Teach your students how to use the spot in the room to help them manage their emotions. You might consider creating a calm down kit that has stuffed animals, fidgets, putty, and other soothing items. 

4. Role play

A fourth strategy for teaching self management skills is role playing. Role play is an excellent way to teach students to manage their emotions, use impulse control, and calm down from stress. Practicing doing these things makes it easy for students to use when they are in a situation where they need to calm down. Role-play is also a great tool to make sure all students are getting the instruction and practice that they need in this area.

5. Set expectations for your students and use positive reinforcement

Set expectations for how your students should participate during class discussions to help with impulse control. Use positive reinforcement when your students are following the expectations. Create opportunities for students to use their voice in a positive way. This could be brainstorming, creating classroom rules, etc. Always positively reinforce when you catch your students following the expectations.

6. Create a classroom that supports organization

Before your students can be organized, you need to be organized. Create places in your room that students know they can turn in papers, get the supplies they need, put away their backpacks, etc. Then hold your students accountable for keeping their workspace and the classroom organized. Not having consistent places for students to access classroom materials and not having consistent routines creates overwhelming anxiety in kids. If you are organized, your students will practice being organized.  

7. Conference with students

Conferencing with students is a great way for you and your students to practice setting reasonable goals for themselves. The more you conference with them, the more setting goals will become a practice that students can do independently. 

8. Brainstorm strengths and interests

The last strategy for teaching self management skills on the list is brainstorming strengths and interests. This activity will help students create a list of things that they are good and interested in. Creating this awareness in students leads to self-motivation. When they have practiced setting goals, they can use their strengths and interests to help them create a plan towards reaching their goal and motivate themselves. 

3 Tips for Families

Below are 3 tips teachers can share with their students’ families after they introduce and teach self management skills in class.

1. Talk to your kids

This one seems simple but talking with your kids about how you manage their emotions and help regulate yourself will provide them with a role model for self-management and creates awareness that self-management is something that everyone does. You can brainstorm with your child ways that they can regulate themselves, and help them see ways that they may be regulating themself without even realizing it. 

2. Set goals together

Talk with your child about goals that you set for yourself, and then work on creating goals together. Ask your child if there is something that they really want to do, or something new they want to try, or something they want to get better at. Help your child create a goal that is reasonable and talk about ways to reach it. 

3. Have chores

Give your child responsibilities around the house. Having them be responsible for keeping their room and the house organized will help them build organizational skills. Completing chores will also help with self-motivation and self-discipline because your child will be responsible for completing them. 

We hope you found this post about teaching self management skills to elementary students helpful! If you did, you may also be interested in these other SEL competency blog posts for teaching self awareness, relationship skills, responsible decision makingand social awareness.

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