University of Exeter
Tools for Schools
Fizzy Feelings

Fizzy Feelings

Key Points

This strategy is about starting to get a handle on impulsive behaviour. This may be one that takes some work to get in place but hopefully will be worth the effort!

How is this tweaked for flex?

Impulsive behaviour is really really hard to change, even for an adult. This strategy gets you started on recognising and labelling how a child feels before they do something impulsive, in their own words, so you can notice them coming, and over time the child may be able to make more deliberate choices

  • Watch the 4 minute learning video about impulsive traits and why they are so hard to change (and instead need to be flexed around)
  • Prepare for this one to go wrong a lot! It’s part of how we learn
  • Identify the impulsive behaviours your student exhibits that can be problematic (you could use the what goes up must come down template and Know Me)
  • Also think about the signs you see before an impulsive moment (look at the explosive moments template), do they take deeper breaths, roll their eyes, huff and puff, move about in their seat or run their hands through their hair?
  • You could translate the behaviours from the what goes up must come down template into the student-focussed my body's signals template for the ‘do’ steps below
  • Talk to the student about things they do that they don’t mean to, or things they wish they could hold back- what feelings do they get just before these things happen? 
  • Add these to the my body’s signals template. Do they get a bubbly feeling in their tummy, or a tingly feeling when an explosive moment is coming on? We call these fizzy feelings
  • The student might not be aware of things they do, and it is important to be positive, not negative: use phrases like “what is it that makes you do that” and “what do you feel when that happens”- don’t ask them “why”: they won’t know and it implies they are choosing to be impulsive (they are not)
  • There is a short holding back activity for students to do which might help them understand this process
  • Introduce a code-word or code-action that you will use with them when you (or they) see a fizzy feeling coming, and chat through what other things they can do that will give them the same feeling of release- add these to the fizzy feelings poster or have the student make their own 
  • When the student is becoming impulsive or dysregulated, direct them to the fizzy feelings poster to choose an activity to let the feeling out
  • Explain that it’s OK for them to let these feelings out, but that they can work with you to try and manage them better so they have more choice about how this happens
  • This will be really very challenging for a lot of students and they will need support, praise and understanding for trying to do this, every time they try
  • Note down how many times the student does impulsive things without realising, does things and realises but can’t contain, and realises and successfully contains using the weekly tracking template. Use this to consider how you may need to adapt more to flex around the student. Do not share this with the student, it could make them feel bad
  • Think about how it’s going on a weekly basis, how it is affecting the student throughout the day and whether there are any explosions at home because they’ve been masking or containing their impulses at school (if so, talk to the family about how you can change this)
  • Think about how you can adapt the classroom to allow the student to exert their impulses in a positive way (flex to their needs)
  • Look at how much effort the student is making and praise this explicitly with them, even if they are not successful
  • Talk to your SENCo and other experienced staff about other creative approaches to support the students’ natural impulsive behaviours
  • Ensure you do not blame the student or yourself - it is normal for you to feel frustrated and this may make you think negatively about the student. Use the reflection template, talk to a member of staff about your feelings and reflect on how your (and the students’) frustration about impulses might cause short-term negative feelings, but it does not mean that you are a bad teacher or that they are a bad student
  • Consider whether you could ask your senior leadership team to make any changes or allowances to make these impulsive situations easier or safer for the student and the class as a whole