10 Self-Regulation IEP Goals

Imagine your teacher or boss is giving you feedback on a piece of work you’ve submitted.

Would you get angry at them, tell them they should be grateful for what you do, and storm off? Or would you take that feedback as an opportunity to learn, grow and get better at what you do?

While the knee-jerk impulse reaction might be that of anger, the smarter and more beneficial thing to do would take the latter course of action. But to come to that decision, the individual first has to regulate their emotions of anger, defensiveness, and even self-doubt. This is why self-regulation of emotions, thoughts, and the subsequent behaviors they lead to is so important. If not for that, the individual could end up getting punished or losing their job.

This blog takes a look at various self-regulation goals that can be met by an Individualized Education Plan meant to support learners with special educational needs.

Self-Regulation IEP Goals: Helping kids with skills and more?

Self-regulation forms a part of the repertoire of socio-emotional skills of an individual. This is why it is said when learning how to understand and manage one’s emotions, the earlier the individual starts the better. And what better place to start this education than an individual’s first and longest place of formal education: the school?

A 2013 study supported this claim when it showed that several classroom activities can lead to gains in the cognitive self-regulation skills of preschool children. Data from 803 children from various cultural backgrounds and ethnicities showed that these skills increased when the teacher engaged in more positively motivating behavior than in reprimanding or disapproving behavior. Additionally, the study also showed that the more time students spent listening to the instructions from the teacher and engaging in subjects like math and literacy, the higher their gains in cognitive self-regulation[1].

socio skills

For students with learning or other concerns that impede their social and emotional skills development, it can be harder to benefit from regular classroom modes of passively teaching self-regulation. A 2016 study posited the same, where it pointed out that in an increasingly online study environment, students become much less likely to interact and benefit from indirect forms of emotional education. It said that there is a stringent need for teachers to launch specialized classes that directly approach the subject and actively engage the students in better understanding and managing their emotions. The teachers should also be provided with effective training so that they can beneficially deliver these classes for all, including children with social and emotional difficulties[2].

Individualized Education Plans help in doing exactly that by tailoring the curriculum of the class to the individual needs of the students and actively targeting subjects like socio-emotional learning, including and emphasizing self-regulation. Discussed below are some IEP goals for self-regulation that can be considered as per individual needs.

  1. The individual will actively engage in naming and understanding a majority of their feelings during the day. For example, the individual will try to understand what situation makes them feel comfortable and what makes them nervous.
  2. The individual will refrain from expressing a thought or feeling at least 80% of the time when the time and/or place isn’t appropriate. For example, an individual should not express their dissent to the opinions of a formal panel unless they are open to comments and questions.
  3. The individual will implement strategies they have learned to plan out behaviors based on their emotions. For example, the individual will think about the appropriate way to communicate their anger and dissatisfaction instead of hurting someone or themselves.
  4. The individual will continue working on the task they have started until it is complete. For example, if the individual is working on an essay for school, they will not stop midway to go play games.
  5. In case of distractions during a task, the individual will use strategies to disengage and continue staying on the task at hand. For example, not getting distracted when the individual is supposed to work and their siblings are playing around them.
  6. The individual will implement learned strategies to deal with the effects of unpleasant emotions. For example, the individual might use relaxation techniques to help with any anxiety they might be feeling.
  7. The individual will engage in socially required, acceptable, and polite behaviors 80% of the time. For example, use of golden words like please, sorry, and thank you.
  8. The individual will follow said and unsaid rules 80% of the time. For example, coming to school on time and having a good attendance record.
  9. The individual will engage in conflictual situations with a constructive approach and try to manage and de-escalate them. For example, listening to the other person’s point of view.
  10. The individual will engage in appropriate group behaviors and exercise impulse control. For example, when participating in a group discussion, the individual will not speak out of turn.

Strategies to achieve self-regulation goals

There are several strategies that can help the individual become more in tune with their emotions and learn how to manage them better. Some of these include:

1. Meditation and mindfulness 

Meditation and mindfulness can be incredibly helpful in aiding the individual’s journey in gaining a better understanding of their emotions. In times of heightened emotions and overwhelming states, simple meditation techniques like the 5-4-3-2-1 method can prove to be instrumental in reducing the toll of emotions and help the individual in taking a calmer, more sound decision. Using self-regulation quotes to enhance motivation and mindfulness can also be a beneficial idea. 

2. Socio-emotional skills training

Social and emotional skills training is a specialized program meant to help individuals who struggle with these skills on a daily basis. These training are customized and catered to the specific needs of the individual. They equip people with different productive and healthy tools and techniques that help them better understand and manage their emotions as well as use this information to guide their behavior in a constructive manner.

3. Journaling and goal tracking 

Journaling is an effective tool that helps put emotions into perspective and better understand them. It also reduces the intensity of the emotions the individual is feeling in the moment, gives them an opportunity to vent, and facilitates sound and informed determination of the next set of actions. Journals can also be helpful in tracking progress toward goals and identifying other areas of improvement.


Self-regulation is an important social skill that helps individuals in various aspects of life like building and maintaining relationships, working on a task or job, etc. Although this skill does not come naturally to everyone. Some individuals struggle with social and emotional skills like self-regulation. In these cases, Individualized Education Plan goals that are tailored to the specific needs of the individual can be a lifesaver. These goals, when implemented and achieved effectively, can serve as important stepping stones in the emotionally independent and self-regulated journey of an individual.


  1. Fuhs, M. W., Farran, D. C., & Nesbitt, K. T. (2013). Preschool classroom processes as predictors of children’s cognitive self-regulation skills development. School Psychology Quarterly, 28(4), 347.
  2. Rice, M. F., & Carter Jr, R. A. (2016). Online teacher work to support the self-regulation of learning in students with disabilities at a fully online state virtual school. Online Learning, 20(4), 118-135.

Leave a Comment