How to Be a Superhero Called Self-Control explores Super Powers to Help Younger Children to Regulate their Emotions and Senses
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How to Be a Superhero Called Self-Control explores Super Powers to Help Younger Children to Regulate their Emotions and Senses

Book Title: How to Be a Superhero Called Self-Control!

Author: Lauren Brukner

Illustrator: Anthony Phillips-Smith

Book Summary:

Meet Self-Control, a superhero who wants to teach young children his super powers of self-control! Anxiety, frustration, anger, and other difficult feelings won't stand a chance against their new-found powers.

Self-Control teaches children with emotional and sensory regulation difficulties aged approximately 4-7 how to calm themselves using self-massage, deep pressure, breathing exercises, and activities such as making an imaginary list and finding their own peaceful place. This illustrated book also features an appendix with photocopiable super power charts, reinforcers, and reminder tools to ensure that parents, teachers, and other professionals can support children in upholding superhero strategies even after the book has been read.

Topic(s) Addressed:

Every child needs a superhero to emulate, someone who is a beacon of hope, a force for good, someone who will help them face complex issues. This book and lesson plan provides children with such a superhero, one called, “Self Control,” who guides them through specific strategies to empower them to face and conquer challenges involving: frustration, anxiety, anger, emotional regulation, and sensory processing. Additional motivating, hands-on activities are included to provide adults with tools to reinforce each new “super power” (strategy) children learn and internalize.

Enduring Understandings:

• When you have self-control, you are able to be kind and compassionate with your body and words to others.
• An important part of positive thinking is to be grateful for who you are and what you have.
• One of the most important steps in resolving conflict is to be able to calm down and clear your head in order to apologize.
• Friendships can easily be affected when an individual is struggling with physical or emotional regulation. It is important to use aspects of “self control” in order to help facilitate effective communication.

Be Inspired:The ideas included are offered as starting points as you and your students explore, discover and live the lessons. Be sure to elicit and encourage student and parent participation, consistently reinforcing the value being addressed. Allow lessons to authentically develop and change based on engagement and interests.

Lesson Plan Components

For the educatorJewish Thought, Text, and Traditionsmore

A note from the author:
Between academic, social, cognitive, familial, physical and other demands placed on the shoulders of children, it is important to provide them with a toolbox of strategies to cope with difficult situations, feelings (both physical and emotional), and navigate them functionally and successfully to not only best complete tasks set before them, but to feel confident and happy as individuals. That is why this book was created. All strategies are able to be completed without any external tools or equipment (that is, only the child s own body/mind), and therefore can be completed anywhere. As I described each strategy, the idea of allowing the child choice was paramount; when a child is experiencing an intense physical or emotional feeling, allowing them control, in whatever capacity, is powerful and vitally important. You ll see that with most strategies presented. I also wanted the reader/listener to be able to relate to scenarios presented; scenarios that often are connected to dysregulation, such as recess, fire drills, transitions, homework, etc. It s important to me that I am speaking to my readers; therefore, Self-Control s voice is my own therapist voice, to an extent!

Jewish every dayIncorporate Jewish Valuesmore

Materials and resourcesmore


  • Copy of How to Be a Superhero Called Self-Control: Super Powers to Help Younger Children to Regulate their Emotions and Senses by Lauren Brukner. 
  • Copies of pictures which illustrate each of the 15 strategies “super powers” 
  • Materials listed in “Tips to Make the Most of the Activities and Strategies in This Book” (Part II)

Sharing The Storymore

Introducing The story

Note to the Educator:
Involve the class in learning one new self-regulatory strategy each week, for the duration of 15 weeks. At the beginning of the week, the strategy will be introduced, followed by a tangible activity as well as the following: 
• Continue to reinforce the strategy as indicated in the sections below. 
• Write a reminder on the board during morning meeting (or include this as a class job): "Our super power of the week is ________________ . What is one way that we can use this today?" 
• Place the appropriate Desk Strip/Table Strip Reminders on student desks/tables. 
• Display the “At a Glace” Reminder Chart (Part II pages 105-108) –keep this as a reminder throughout the year

Before formal introduction of the book and strategies (super powers), introduce the superhero, Self-Control, pages 13-18. Consider having the class draw their own representational figure of self-control after the reading.

Introduce the “super power of the week” by saying, "I am going to give you choice and control to choose your "Just Right" spot to sit so that you can do your best listening. Show me that you can have AMAZING self-control like our friend Self-Control and get ready to learn an awesome super power so that we can feel JUST RIGHT. When we are just right, we feel happy, peaceful, and are ready to listen and learn. Let s get started!" Allow for flexible seating. You may want kids in a semi- circle with you in the middle. It s ok if kids are laying on their bellies for most exercises, as long as they are active participants and showing good body control.

Display a visual of the strategy to be discussed (each “super power” has a picture accompanying illustration). Keep it displayed throughout the week.

Reading The Story

Read through one super power example. Note: If you have a student who tends to be the class clown, consider calling on him/her quickly as a role model for doing the super power so well (before they have a chance to act silly!) Thus, you are linking positive reinforcement, internal gratification, and self-regulation together all at once!
Involve students in the activity that follows . (Additional information on many of these are included in Part II.)

After The Story

After having children sit and attend to the read-aloud portion, it s important to embed movement into the lesson; preferably movement that is purposeful, involves large body movement, crosses midline (that is, one part of the body goes to the other side of the body-allowing cross-hemispheric integration), and serves to signal a transition. Have your class stand up and do a two minute gross motor exercise to keep them focused. A good example would be “cross crawls.” In this exercise, the child brings one elbow and the opposite knee together slowly and with control-and switch legs/elbows). Other good exercises that serve as good movement breaks at the transition between the read aloud to the next Super Power Activity (see below) include: jumping jacks, or jumping/hopping/skipping/marching to their tables from the rug.

Super Power Activity: Reinforce the activity in one or more of the following ways: laminated visual from chart at desks (pages 105-108); bracelet with laminated visual of single strategy on string (hole-punched) worn by all students

Throughout the week, embed the strategy in other lessons and academic talk. For example, for "Make a Mantra” strategy," you may want to pause during a read aloud dealing with a character who is frustrated or angry, and suggest to the class, "Maybe _______ should try our “Make a Mantra” strategy! Can you give an example of a good one that he/she can try using in this situation?"

At the end of the week, recognize their mastery of the super power with a special certificate. (See Part II.)


Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore

Music Connectionsmore

Evidence of Learningmore

Over the course of those 15 weeks, observe and document student behavior. For example:

Record the number of student conflicts per day/week. Does this decrease over time?

Record the number of referrals for special education related to behavior/emotional/attention difficulties. Do the numbers decrease?

Focus on a particular child (children) who is (are) experiencing difficulties relating to emotional and physical regulation. Document this weekly to determine:

  • Is the number of conflicts/outburst decreasing? 

  • Is the amount of time attending during instruction, participating in school- based activities, and work production increasing?


At the end of the 15 weeks, hold a special ceremony to recognize the hard work of the students and their abilities to use their new super powers. Award each student with an “Official Self-Control Hero” certificate (see page 104). Invite parents. Students can create their own invitations; make special treats, etc. as appropriate.

Involve families in understanding these super power strategies so that there is consistency between what you are doing in class and the language that is being used at home:

Before beginning the unit, explain the purpose behind what you are teaching the children, and how these strategies can help them in their daily lives. Stress the importance of the home-school connection, and explain that you will send home visuals of strategies taught (and examples of places to put them around the home), and information on what you teach each week.

Share the visual of the strategy being worked on, preferably enlarged, with the families of the children in your class.

An interesting way to share a little about what you are working on would be through a weekly newsletter in which you can explain the name of the superpower highlighted that week and ways children are using it in the classroom. The newsletter may also contain the following suggestions for parents:

  • Consider purchasing the book in order to have all the superpower strategies and visuals available, whenever you need it. 

  • Ensure that you are reinforcing the superpower of the week throughout your daily interactions with your child; for example, when you start the day in the morning, try to anticipate together a time during the day that the superpower may come in handy. 

  • Model the use of the superpower through your own actions; for example, if you become angry, pause and model a superpower power geared at that emotion. Afterwards, name it for your child. "I was feeling frustrated before, but I was able to calm down by using the ___ superpower." 

Send home the diploma with the superpower mastered listed. On the diploma, have the child write, in his/her own words, how to complete the strategy and what feelings it helps with.

Lesson Contributors

Lauren Brukner, author.
Twitter: @brukner_lauren