As a parent you may have observed your child having a big reaction to what might seem like something small. They may have been offered something they didn’t want, been asked to wait, or requested to do something they didn’t want to do. In response, you may see your child exhibiting behaviours such as screaming, crying, aggression and/or destruction.
This is because they don’t yet have the ability to understand and manage their own feelings and behaviours in appropriate ways. They require warm and responsive adults to support them to make sense of what they are feeling and to model appropriate strategies and responses.
Tips to support your child’s development of self-regulation:
- Remain calm and get down to your child’s level
- Provide them with the time and space to return to a calmer state – staying close if they need the emotional connection or giving them space if they require it
- Reduce environmental stimuli where possible to lower their state of arousal – e.g., turning off bright lights, putting on relaxing music, or moving with them to a quieter area
- Validate and label their feelings
- Model appropriate language – e.g., “say stop” or “don’t want”
- Teach calming strategies such as taking deep breaths or going for a walk