Teaching children self-regulation

Children need to be taught how to be calm or avoid impetuous reactions. Net photo

Imagine watching your older child fight with his/her younger sibling over the TV or a toy, and none of them is willing to give it up for the other. 

Or perhaps your child is sleepy or hungry and instead of a peaceful approach, chooses to yell and cry. All this may be lack of self-control.


How can you help them have self-regulation?  Self-regulation is the process that your child’s brain goes through that gives them the ability to control their behaviour and emotions in response to a particular situation. It is that seed that is planted to allow children grow into adults who can manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviours.


As a parent, guardian, teacher or caretaker, children need to be taught how to be calm or avoid impetuous reactions. 


Research consistently shows that self-regulation is necessary for social-emotional and academic success and well-being, and is one of the most important skills for children to develop.

Understand the child’s emotion. Here, you can match that emotion with your tone of voice as it creates sensitive resonance, helping the child to feel heard and understood. Openness and staying loving to the child’s standpoint and understanding is very important.

Allow children to play. Kids usually learn through playing which is why they ought to be permitted to play, but also set goals. Work on setting and meeting small goals in order to start being able to keep bigger goals in mind.

Use naturally occurring situations to teach self-regulation strategies. This can be teaching kids about being patient, especially when they delay to get what they want, listening if anyone has some information to convey, holding on when they lack something and knowing that not always will everything go their way and much more.

Have your child make a choice and a plan. Ask them what they would want to eat for dinner, or pack for school, or what they would prefer to wear at home, this would reduce on the tantrums that might come up if they are not given chance to make a choice.

Explore coping strategies together. Help kids find healthy and productive outlets for their intense emotions. Get to know what annoys them, how to calm them down, what do they prefer doing and why, among others.

Make sure that every child is aware of expectations for behaviour at home and at school.  Pre-schoolers need consistent expectations, a routine they can count on, and sufficient sleep and rest to employ emerging skills.

How can self-regulation be effective?

Provide a warm, open relationship where children feel respected as individuals, cheered and supported in times of stress, and confident that they will be cared for anytime.

Teach and instruct self-regulation skills through modelling, instruction, opportunities for practice, and prompts for skill performing, and strengthening of consecutive estimations.

Configure the environment to make self-regulation manageable, physically and emotionally safe for children to discover and learn at their level of progress without serious risk to their safety.


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