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SELF-REGULATION

Children in early childhood are able to verbalize quite a few emotional


self-regulation strategies. When they use these strategies there are fewer
emotional outbursts. At this age children watch how adults handle their
own feelings and responses. They take this information and use those
strategies to regulate their own emotions.

Between the ages of 6 and 8, children become aware of the difference


between feeling an emotion and expressing it. Children develop an
emotional self-communication that helps them reflect on their emotions
and learn to manage them. Temperament has an effect on how children
face new challenges and how they regulate negative emotion. Around
age ten, children are able to use problem-centered copping skills to
identify the difficulty and decide what to do about it. They use emotion-
centered coping when problem solving does not work. When emotional
self-regulation has developed well, young people acquire a sense of
emotional self-efficacya feeling of being in control of their emotional
experience (Saarni, 2000; Thompson & Goodman, 2010).

One key way to help promote emotional self-regulation is by practicing


the techniques as adults. Children watch their parents, caregivers and
teachers. Another way is to have conversations with children with
suggestions on self-regulation and explain strategies to help children find
ones that work for them. If most other strategies do not work, counseling
is a wonderful way to help children learn self-regulation. There is
nothing wrong with seeking professional help for our children.

For children who are still struggling with self-regulation, parents and
educators can help by modeling behavior, using cues, and gradually
withdrawing adult support. Modeling is when teachers show children
how to use self-regulation to complete tasks. Cues can also be used to
help such as simple directions, gestures and touch. These cues can be in
the form of pictures, a gentle touch on a childs back or other small hints
that will guide children as they learn to self-regulate. Children will
gradually start to become better at self-regulating. As they do, the
teacher or parent should start to pull back and give the child more control
of their actions while monitoring their progress.

Self-regulation is extremely important to a childs psychological


adjustment and behavior. Children who do not have good self-regulation
tools will have difficulty controlling their anger, problems with
managing emotion, are more anxious and fearful as well as have poor
interaction with teachers and peers.