Self-Monitoring Strategies for Kids

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One of the big executive functioning skills is the ability to self-monitor oneself. Self-monitoring plays into one’s ability to notice what is happening in the world around us and what is happening in our own body. The ability to “check” oneself and monitor actions, behaviors, and thoughts as they happen play into our ability to problem solve. Use the tips below to help kids learn how to self-monitor and problem solve. These self-monitoring strategies for kids are applicable in the classroom, home, sports field, or in social situations.

As a related resources, try these self-reflection activities for kids

Use these self-monitoring strategies for kids to teach kids how to self-monitor their actions and behaviors for better learning, attention, and functional independence.

Related read: Here are more executive functioning resources to fill your therapy toolbox!

Self-monitoring is a process of metacognition. Metacognition is the ability to plan for and
execute a task, monitor one’s
actions, analyze a problem,
apply a strategy, maintain attention, and evaluate or
monitor completion of an activity. Ideally, metacognition should occur naturally and instinctively as we engage in an activity.

Self-Monitoring Strategies for Kids

In talking about self-monitoring skills, let’s first discuss what exactly self-monitoring is and what it means for kids to self-monitor their actions, thoughts, and behaviors.

What is self-monitoring?

The ability to self-monitor is made up of two main areas:

1.) Observation- In this stage, a child is able to identify a specific behavior, thought, or action that occurred. This might happen during the action or afterwords. In a child who struggles with talking out in class, they may catch themselves as they are interrupting. Another child may realize they spoke out of turn only after the teacher mentions the interruption. In both cases, the child is able to identify what behavior has occurred through self-assessment. This level of self-monitoring is a real struggle for some students and working on the ability to notice the behaviors or actions that are inefficient or inappropriate for the situation. This stage requires a lot of reflection and the ability to recognize an ideal response or appropriate behavior for a specific situation.

Observation, or self-assessment may require work in order for the child to understand targeted behaviors.
Some supports for self-assessment can include:
Lists of appropriate actions or behaviors
Visual cues
Verbal cues
Reminder notes
Goal setting
Journaling in a notebook or a tool such as the Impulse Control Journal
Role-playing practice
Modeling from peers

The goal of this stage is to get students to move from a teacher/parent/therapist/adult support of self-assessment to a self-assessment status where the child identifies behaviors and actions that are off-target.

2.) Recording- This stage of self-monitoring is a means for moving from an awareness of actions and behaviors to function. In the recording stage of self-monitoring, children are able to note their actions and make changes based on what happened in specific situations. Jotting down deviences of targeted behavior can help kids to become more aware of what happened in a specific situation and how they can make adjustments in the future to avoid specific behaviors, or how they can use accommodations and self-regulation tools to respond and react more appropriately.

Recording or measurement of actions can occur through several methods:
Parent/Teacher/Student communication sheets (where the child inputs behaviors throughout the day)
Journaling in a notebook or a tool such as the Impulse Control Journal
Data collection sheets
Frequency collection forms

A child’s ability to stay organized can make a big impact on self-monitoring. Use the organization activities and strategies identified here.

Self-Monitoring in Kids Improve Many Areas:

When children self-monitor their actions and thoughts, so many areas are developed and progressed:
Problem-solving abilities

You can see how each of the executive functioning skills play into the ability to self-monitor and how self-monitoring skills play into the development and use of each of the other executive functioning skills.

Teach Self-Monitoring Strategies to Improve Function

There are also functional skills that are developed and improved through self-monitoring:
Task initiation
Task completion
Social-emotional interaction
Follow-through on learned skills

Self-Monitoring Strategies

Below, you will find additional self-monitoring strategies that can help children with the ability to identify and self- assess and self-adjust behaviors that may occur within the classroom, home, or other environment. These strategies should be viewed as supports that can be used independently by the child following instruction and input to teach strategy methods.

  • Make an outline for writing tasks, homework assignments, or multi-step assignments in order to keep the child on task.
  • Utilize a self-monitoring schedule- Ask the child to stop and self-check their actions, behaviors, or thoughts to make sure they are on-task.
  • Try an index card or other visual reminder on desks for a list of appropriate behaviors.
  • Use social stories to teach appropriate actions and reactions to specific situations in the home or classroom.
  • Incorporate a schedule of self-regulation strategies to address sensory, attention, and focusing needs. A sensory diet can help with this.
  • Teach the child to check and recheck- Teach children to stop and check and then re-check their behaviors.
  • Teach the child self-talk strategies.
  • Teach students to look at their finished assignment from their teacher’s eyes. This can help them have an outside view of completed work or actions in the classroom and adjust as appropriate.
  • Sensory or coping strategies scheduled throughout the day for sensory input or movement breaks.
  • Use a timer for scheduled self-assessment and self-reflection of behaviors or actions and recording of data.
  • Work toward fading self-monitoring visual and physical cues as well as data collection means.
  • Teach the child to journal experiences. The Impulse Control Journal can be a helpful tool for children who are able to write or dictate to an adult.
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This is a 5 page printable self-monitoring strategy outline for educating those who work with kids with self-monitoring skills in kids.
Free self-monitoring strategy guide for kids

When saying “calm down” just isn’t enough…

When a child is easily “triggered” and seems to melt down at any sign of loud noises or excitement…

When you need help or a starting point to teach kids self-regulation strategies…

When you are struggling to motivate or redirect a child without causing a meltdown…

When you’re struggling to help kids explore their emotions, develop self-regulation and coping skills, manage and reflect on their emotions, identify their emotions, and more as they grow…

References on self-monitoring:

Cook, Kathleen B., “Self-Monitoring Strategies for Improving Classroom Engagement of Secondary Students” (2014). Georgia
Association for Positive Behavior Support Conference. 65.

How To: Teach Students to Change Behaviors Through Self-Monitoring. (n.d.). Retrieved February 01, 2018, from

Menzies, H. M., Lane, K. L., & Lee, J. M. (winter, 2009). Self-Monitoring Strategies for Use in the Classroom: A Promising Practice to Support Productive Behavior for Students With Emotional or Behavioral Disorders. Beyond Behavior, 27-35. Retrieved February 1, 2018, from

Self monitoring and self regulation skills for kids