December's Topic: Self-Regulation
What is Self-Regulation?
Self-regulation is the ability to control our own behavior, emotions, and thoughts in response to the situations we are faced with on a daily basis.
Self-regulation is an important executive functioning skill children learn as they grow and develop. Without the ability to emotionally regulate, children can have a difficult time becoming available for learning.
What does it mean to be “dysregulated”?
When a child is dysregulated, they appear to be “out of control.” They may be hyperactive, over reactive, impulsive, have difficulty controlling their anger, and in extreme cases, possibly even becoming aggressive.
Strategies to teach and encourage self-regulation
Model, Model, Model!
Intentionally teach self-regulation by demonstrating expected behavior and by using the appropriate language children need to accomplish a task.
Provide Structure and Boundaries
Explicitly tell children what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Give them choices of what acceptable behavior they can demonstrate instead. Be clear and consistent.
Help Ease Transitions
Transition times can be very unstructured and change can be hard for children who struggle to regulate their emotions. Anticipate transitions and let children know ahead of time of any changes to their schedule.
Validate Child’s Feelings
Empathize with the child and let them know that you understand how they are feeling. Then, quickly prompt them to a strategy or choice of strategies to help calm them down.
Teach Calming Strategies
Help children develop a “toolbox” of calming strategies that work best for them. Listed below are a few effective ways for children to calm down.
-Deep breathing (inhaling and exhaling to a count of 4),
- Listening to music
- squeezing a fidget toy or stress ball
- Taking a break
- Going for a walk
Links to Lists of Calming Apps and other Resources