Exploring Self-Regulation

What is self-regulation?

Self-regulation is how a person controls and calms themselves independently. It is important for toddlers to develop self-regulation skills, so they can control their emotions, behaviors, and feelings. Self-regulation helps a child control their impulses and process what they are going through. A child typically develops self-regulation strategies starting at 12 months. It is important for a toddler to have adult guidance in this process. Toddlers use their self-regulation tools to help them develop independence, develop friendships, and process their environment.

Self-Regulation/Self-Calming Strategies

Yoga/ Deep breaths:Through yoga and breathing strategies, toddlers can further develop their body awareness, encourage blood flow, and promote an overall healthy body. Children are able to use the strategies they learn from yoga to manage stress through different body positions and through deep breathing. Slow controlled, deep breaths create blood flow through a child’s body, allowing more oxygen throughout the body. Having ‘go to’ poses (i.e. downward dog, happy baby) can be movement strategies that you can encourage your child to use when they are in need of self-regulation.

Recommended books:“Little Yoga” by, Rebecca Whitford & Martina Selway, “Yoguerilla” action cards

Model:Children learn from their environment and their experiences. Parents can model their emotions and their regulation strategies by narrating how they are regulating their emotions. For example, when a parent sees their child having a difficult time with their emotional regulation, the parent can narrate the experience (i.e. “I’m feeling mad. I want to play at the park longer!”). Normalizing the emotions is an important part of modeling. A parent can then narrate strategies to help their child process self-regulation strategies (i.e. “I am going to take three deep breaths” while breathing). Children can recall this information and imitate the phrases to help process their emotional response.

Visual schedule:Children thrive on routine. It organizes them to understand what is coming next. Using a visual schedule can help a child anticipate a transition or a new activity during their day. A visual schedule will plan out a routine for your child. This schedule will encourage growth in a child’s emotional responses to transitions and routine. This self-regulation strategy will help encourage your child’s flexibility and independence.

Questions or concerns?

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s ability to self-regulate, please contact us at info@playworkschicago.comor at (773) 332-9439.

Rachel Weiser, MS, DT
Developmental Therapist

Reference:The Australian Parenting Website, (Melbourne, Australia). Self-regulation in young children. Retrieved from: https://raisingchildren.net.au/toddlers/behaviour/understanding-behaviour/self-regulation

Photo credit: Photo by, Samantha Sophia on Unsplash

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