The ability to self-regulate or exercise control over our emotions and behaviors is a necessary skill that grows as we do. The goal of self-regulation is to manage our emotions and behavior to act in our best interests. Self-regulation helps us get through everyday life and cope with unexpected circumstances. For children on the autism spectrum, regulating their emotions can be difficult. However, you can teach your child self-regulation skills to ensure they can cope with the ups and downs of life. Keep reading for more tips.
What is Self-Regulation?
Self-regulation is the ability to control and manage our emotions and rapidly develops between 3 and 7, or sometime in early childhood. If your child is having a meltdown or tantrum, it could signify that their body is dysregulated. It could be due to tiredness, overstimulation, frustration, stress, or other factors. Many skills are required for your child to be able to self-regulate successfully. These skills include:
- sensory processing
- emotional regulation
- attention and concentration
- executive function
- planning and sequencing
- language skills
- social skills
- working memory
Why Self-Regulation is Important
You may wonder why self-regulation is such a necessary skill for your child to learn. Well, there are many positive consequences of controlling and managing your emotions. Some of these include:
- Improved emotional intelligence
- Better stress management
- Improved learning at school
- Increased independence
- Ability to control impulses
- Staying focused on goals
- Adapting to changes in the environment
Sensory regulation allows children to maintain a proper level of arousal and respond effectively to sensory stimuli. Emotional regulation will enable them to respond to social situations by appropriately controlling their behavior to fit within a suitable range of emotions in any situation.
Tips for Teaching Self-Regulation
The first step in teaching your child anything is to remain calm and present. Children look to their parents and caregivers to model appropriate emotions and behavior. Your child can tell when you are stressed or agitated, so it is essential to regulate your feelings first. Start by teaching basic emotions using flashcards or pictures of emotions. Teach your child how to identify, label, and sort the emotion. Once they understand basic emotions, be sure to point them out in real-life situations.
When your child’s body and mind are dysregulated, it is harder to access their higher thinking skills. It is imperative to simplify our language when talking to children that are experiencing dysregulation. Give them only a few directions at a time, and be sure to speak in a calmer, quieter tone.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.