Self-Regulation Snap Shot #4: A Focus on Middle-School Aged Youth

Publication Date: April 4, 2018
Self-Regulation Snap Shot #4: A Focus on Middle-School Aged Youth Cover

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Adult caregivers such as parents, teachers, coaches, and other mentors play a critical role in shaping and supporting self-regulation development from birth through young adulthood through an interactive process called “co-regulation.”


This snapshot summarizes key concepts about self-regulation development and intervention for middle-school aged youth for practitioners and educators interested in promoting self-regulation for this age group. It is based on a series of four reports on Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress prepared for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). Visit the Toxic Stress and Self-Regulation Reports page for more information.


Self-regulation skills developing in middle- school aged children:

  • Completing longer and more complex tasks
  • Self-monitoring
  • Planning, prioritization, and time management to achieve goals
  • Using strategies to manage stress
  • Using health-promoting strategies to calm down when distressed
  • Considering consequences before acting
  • Making effective decisions “in the moment”
  • Solving more complex problems independently
  • Goals, behavior, and decision-making guided by empathy and concern for others

Key considerations for promoting self-regulation in middle-school aged youth:

  • Encourage a positive school climate for all students
  • Deliver self-regulation skills training in at-risk schools
  • Train teachers and afterschool staff to teach, model, reinforce, and coach self-regulation skills
  • Identify ways to support school and program staff’s own self-regulation capacity
  • Provide parent education supports that address co-regulation


Murray, D.W. and Rosanbalm, K. (2017). Self-Regulation Snap Shot #4: A Focus on Middle-School Aged Youth. OPRE Report #2018-13, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


The act of managing thoughts and feelings to enable goal-directed actions.
The supportive process between caring adults and children, youth, or young adults that fosters self-regulation development.
Current as of: