We all experience situations in life which elicit emotional responses, whether it’s being unable to do something, being spoken to in a way we don’t like, being let down by friends, seeing and hearing about world news events or any other scenario. In such situations, we need to be able to manage our emotions and respond in a way that allows us to manage the situation at hand in an appropriate manner without making things worse.
Children are not always able to manage their ‘big emotions’. They become overwhelmed and can end up having a meltdown or explosion in the classroom or at home. This can then lead to further distress caused by punishments such as detention, missing play, no screen time or other negative consequences. Unfortunately, these punishments do not teach children the coping mechanisms required and just make the situation worse. Behaviour is a form of communication and disruptive behaviour is often due to poor self-regulation. It is therefore vital to really look at what might be going on and what we can do to help.
Self- regulation is the ability to understand and manage emotions and behaviours. A child who can self-regulate is able to control their impulses, make better decisions and not over-react when upset or excited. Poor self-regulation can affect a child’s and in turn our own physical, emotional and social wellbeing as well academic achievement. Children with poor self-regulation skills tend to make less progress – (McClelland et al 2007).
At Learn Happy London we believe that for every child to be successful in education they need to learn with enjoyment, creativity and curiosity. Being happy, untroubled and carefree leads to enjoyable positive learning experiences. For this to be achieved children need to develop good self-regulation skills Ito help them deal with everyday challenges and manage their learning. Without this it is difficult for children to achieve good academic results.
Why do some children struggle?
- Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) in Early life ie: Adoption or Looked After. This can also include prolonged stressful events ie: poverty and other traumatic experiences.
- Children who have additional needs. I.e.: social communication difficulties, ADHD, Sensory Processing Difficulties.
- Temperament. Some children are more reactive than others
- Physical Needs not being met. I.e.: tired, hungry
8 Ways you can help your children to learn self-regulation skills?
- Modelling: Even if stressed present a calm from, model self-control ie count back from 1 – 10, take some deep breaths, take a 5 minute break.
- Co-regulate: Reassure your children and acknowledge their feelings. It’s OK to be angry, sad etc. Use a soothing voice and calm manner. Focus on their emotion on not their behaviour. The behaviour can be dealt with later once your child has calm down.
- Use Empathy: Don’t dismiss your child’s feelings, acknowledge them. Understanding feelings is so important.
- Talk About Emotions: Talk about what it means to be angry, sad, happy etc. What things make your child angry? Sad? What happens to their body when they are angry? What can you do to help them not feel angry? Use storybooks, games and songs.
- Emotional Play and Games: Playing games to help to learn self-regulation skills such as waiting, turn taking and impulse control. Using dolls or puppets to demonstrate the physical reactions of emotions ie: jumping with joy or screaming in anger and the appropriate ways to behave is also a great way to teach emotions. Having fun by pulling silly faces, putting on a silly voice or make a certain noise to signify different emotions.
- Take a break: Taking regular breaks in learning ie: stretching, play a quick game helps children to re-focus and relax.
- Mindfulness and Meditation: Engage in quiet activities ie: colouring, reading. Learn to pause, focus on breathing and calming down.
- Sensory Adjustments: Make adjustments that will help your child feel comfortable ie: dimming the lights, wearing soft clothing, playing some calming music, having their favourite snack etc.
If your child suffers with anxiety and has difficulty self-regulating we are happy to help. Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions. You can find more information about our Mentoring, Private Tutoring Services and Learn Happy London on the website, along with reviews.
You can also join our Facebook group Let’s Talk Education to get support, advice and more.
Please call on 07540893384 to discuss your requirements. Alternatively you can email us.