When students’ anxiety is heightened it is a good idea for both the adult and the child to focus on a few long, slow breaths. The adult can model this and hopefully the student will follow their lead. At the very least keeping our own anxiety down when students are heightened helps everyone. Students pick up on our energy and if we are able to model calmness, it can be an invitation for them to calm themselves.
Equally important to note, when students are in an anxious state, their ability to process language is greatly reduced. It can be so helpful to use visuals and reduce (or eliminate) the amount of words that are coming at the student. Many of our students have a challenge processing the language around them even when they are self-regulated; expecting them to process language when they are dysregulated is not kind or helpful.
It is important that visuals are introduced and used regularly when children are calm and regulated. This is the time they can learn what the visuals mean. When a child is dysregulated it is less likely they will be able to process and understand visuals they are seeing for the first time. If they have seen the visuals regularly during self-regulated times, they are more likely to recognize and respond to visuals when they are stressed.