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Dina School: Teaching Children Emotional Regulation Skills

For the past four years I have had the pleasure of teaching Dina School.

Dina School is a really neat program that teaches children emotional regulation skills. The program uses puppets to capture the students’ attention.

My main puppet is Wally. The children seem to adore Wally. It’s not uncommon to hear teachers or parents use the phrase, “What would Wally do?” to remind their children to make good choices. Wally always makes good choices.

One particular skill Wally teaches is to recognize if the feeling felt is good or bad. If the feeling feels bad inside, it signals that we have a problem and need to find a solution. One simple solution Wally tells the kids is to take three deep breaths to calm down. Easy enough, right?

Recently I was asked to attend a board meeting for the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities to explain what Dina School is all about. Although I have seven years of speaking publicly under my belt, I still get nervous talking in front of people. I decided to take Wally with me. He could help alleviate some of my nervousness, I thought. Especially if he did all the talking.

The day of the meeting arrived and I had a Dina class that afternoon. I was a wreck. Sweaty palms. Shaking voice. This meant, in turn, Wally’s voice trembled as well. It was pretty obvious to my students that something was going on. One student in particular asked, “Wally, what’s wrong?” Wally explained that he had a presentation to do later in the evening and it was making him feel very nervous. “Duh!” the student exclaimed, “You have a bad feeling- you need to take three deep breaths!”


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