Self-Regulation is a regular part of our everyday lives, and we practice it without thinking twice about it. Drinking coffee or playing loud music so we don’t nod off while driving, tapping our fingers or foot repetitively during a boring meeting, or even taking a warm bath to calm our nerves before winding down for the night are all ways in which we constantly self-regulate.
Children face situations when they may feel over-excited (high alert state) or under-excited (low alert state). However, children are less skilled in managing the highs and lows of their energy and alert levels like adults are. Children need to self-regulate too, but many find it harder to calm themselves down. It is our duty as adults entrusted with their care, to introduce children to easy ways to self-regulate throughouttheir dayand in difficult situations.
Where to Find Self-Regulation Advice?
There are many sources one could approach, to find the best guidance on self-regulation, especially strategies geared for children. One of the best ways is to find advice from an AOTA Approved Provider, who could introduce you to simple activitiesor practices that, can make a huge difference in calming children down when needed or revving up (for example, when perhaps slow in rising to start their day). There are also several self-regulation programs online which offer guidelines on how to teach self-regulation to young kids, preschoolers, students, and even adults. There are even several occupational therapy courses that offer assistance in self-regulation for people who have difficulty staying focused to learn or work at home, in schools, or in the communities. They develop skills to be independent in their own self-regulation and learn sensory strategies to use throughout their day.
Why is Self-Regulation Important for Children?
Self-Regulation is important for children, since it is the basis of all of our goals. For a parent, for example, who is teaching a child how to tie their shoes, the parent wants the child to be in an optimal state of alertness (not in a high or low alert state). For a teacher, who is teaching a math concept, the teacher wants the child to be in an optimal state of alertness. By supporting the child to attain a “just right” alert state for the task, the parent and teacher will find the child more likely to learn thetask at hand (and less likely to have behavioral outbursts). When self-regulation is supported, goals can be achieved more easily with less effort (by the adults teaching or the child learning).
How to Help Children Self-Regulate?
These are specific good practices that are suggested by any AOTA approved provider which are important to start your child off on the path of self-regulation:
For more ideas, consult with your occupational therapist at your child’s school or local clinic. Or take a self-regulation online course to learn more.