Self- regulation is a skill that allows kids to manage their emotions, behavior and body movement when faced with a situation that is tough to handle. Self- regulation is achieved while staying focused and paying attention. It includes being able to resist highly emotional reactions to upsetting stimuli, to calm yourself down when you get upset, to adjust to a change in expectations and to handle frustration without an outburst.
Why do kids struggle with self- regulating?
The struggle with self- regulation may come from a combination of different factors. A child’s capability for self- regulation may be dictated by nature and personality. Some children from the stage of infancy have trouble self- soothing and may become distressed during every day activities like dressing. Those children may be more likely to experience trouble with self- regulation as they get older. Another factor can stem from the environment. Parents who give in to their children’s tantrums or who tend to work extensively on soothing their children when they become upset or act out make it harder for their children to develop self- discipline.
How to improve self- regulation?
Self- regulation skills can be approached the same way as any other skill, by isolating that skill and practicing it. Coaching children through situations that are difficult instead of avoiding them builds a supportive framework. It encourages a behavior you want until the child can handle the situation alone. An example, imagine a situation that can produce strong negative emotions like a frustrating homework assignment. If a parent continues to hover too much, they risk taking over the regulation role instead of letting the child recognize that the work is frustrating and figuring out how to handle it.
Know your child’s development milestones
Teach your child ways to cope with their frustration and anger
Show your child support and that you’re on their side
Talk up your child’s strengths
Acknowledge your child’s challenges
Teach your child persistence
Set realistic goals
Nurture your child’s passions
Have your child fill out a self- awareness worksheet
Developmental milestones. (n.d.). Retrieved November 18, 2018, from https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/signs-symptoms/developmental-milestones
Kelly, K. (n.d.). Helping Your Child Cope With Anger and Frustration. Retrieved November 18, 2018, from https://www.understood.org/en/friends-feelings/managing-feelings/anger-frustration/helping-your-child-cope-with-anger-and-frustration
Morin, A. (n.d.). Trouble With Self-Regulation: What You Need to Know. Retrieved November 18, 2018, from https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/sensory-processing-issues/trouble-with-self-regulation-what-you-need-to-know
Pietro, S. (2018, November 08). How Can We Help Kids With Self-Regulation? Retrieved November 18, 2018, from https://childmind.org/article/can-help-kids-self-regulation/
Self- awareness worksheet for kids: https://www.understood.org/~/media/1f288a116b3c4a6c82dc18de2b55bc43.pdf