Saturday, August 21, 2010

Self-regulation Simplified

As parents and professionals, we hear a lot about what we can do to help children. Improving Self-regulation is one of the most basic, but also one of the most important abilities we can help our children develop.

Self-regulation is related to academic achievement, social skills, happiness, mental health issues, and self-esteem.
Sometimes it's easier to break Self-regulation down into 3 categories:
  • Physical - The ability to calm our body down when our Fight/Flight response is activated

  • Emotional - The ability to have our emotional response match the situation

  • Cognitive - The ability to plan and problem-solve

This is a good list to use when evaluating whether or not to try a new intervention or activity with your child. Ask yourself if it fits into one of these three categories.

Physical strategies usually have to do with teaching calming techniques. The Emotional strategies are geared toward appropriate labeling and expression of feelings. And the Cognitive aspect will involve things like making lists, problem-solving strategies, or engaging in higher order thinking.

There are many activities out there to choose from, but it really helps to have a "framework" to know what you are working on, and what you are looking for. Keep Self-regulation in mind when interacting with children, and remember that the end goal of Self-regulation is for children to grow up and know how to regulate themselves, not to learn how to be regulated by their environment.

Brad Chapin, LCP, LMLP