Emotional self-regulation is the ability to monitor and manage your own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in ways that produce positive results. Self-regulation takes a lot of self-awareness and practice. It can be especially difficult to practice such self-control during moments of heightened emotion or increased demands.
We are learning to recognize our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. We are also working to regain control of our brains and our bodies as we learn to recognize the signs that we are becoming frustrated, distracted, over-excited, etc. A brief grounding exercise can help quiet the thousands of thoughts that distract and frustrate us each day. When the mind is quiet and focused, we’re able to check or reset ourselves to be more present. This not only allows us to feel more in control, taking a break presents the opportunity to productively address our personal thoughts and feelings.
Please consider the following strategies to help prompt your child to take a controlled break. Remember, it’s beneficial to model self-control in your words and actions for your kids to see. We want kids to accept the usefulness of these strategies – that will come from positive support, practice, and modeling from others.
Take 30-seconds to practice mindful eating
Crumble a piece of paper, then mindfully and slowly smooth it out
Calm down with the five senses
This tool can be used in a variety of ways. For instance, you can prompt your child to identify: 3 things in the room that are blue, 2 things that he/she can hear, 4 things in the room that start with the letter A, etc.
Put your hands on a table (or another surface such as your legs) and count to 10 by raising each individual finger, one at a time, starting with your right pinky
Spend 30-seconds playing with a fidget o
To provide more structure, you can offer controlled choices in offering types of fidgets (ball, squishy, Play-Doh, pipe cleaner, fidget spinner). You can also provide instruction in how to engage with the fidget item for the duration of the 30-seconds. For instance, “Let’s take a quick break by rolling the ball on the table”. Often, it’s fun to give them small and engaging challenges. For example, “You have 30 seconds to make a shape with your pipe cleaner.”
Sometimes, forms of exercise or controlled physical activity can be useful. You can prompt your child to spend 30-seconds:
Pushing a wall as hard as you can then relax your body
Squeezing a ball or pillow (you can count to 10 in coordination to the squeezing, roll the ball, etc.)