Developing Self-Regulation Skills with Conscious Guidance
This past year, we integrated Dr. Becky Bailey‘s comprehensive self-regulation program, Conscious Discipline into our Platinum Learning for Life Curriculum™ (identified as “Conscious Guidance” on our learning plans). During the month of January, we will focus on the practice of self-regulation combining the goals of Conscious Discipline and our Communities of Character™ curriculum. Children will learn self-regulation skills to manage their emotions, overcome stress, and persist through challenges as they read age-appropriate books and participate in hands-on activities and games. Compiled below are several strategies and activities you can use at home as you continue teaching self-regulation skills to your child:
- Label and recognize feelings. From the earliest ages, caregivers can support children by identifying and talking about feelings and then assisting children as they recover from strong emotions. Try singing softly and gently swaying with the child to help them calm down.
- Teach acceptable behavior. When a child is upset, she may not be able to retain anything you try to teach her about behavior. Once she has regained composure, teach her to reflect on the situation and problem solve together by thinking of other ways to handle a similar situation in the future. It may be helpful to provide personal example stories about how you calm down in similar situations.
- Plan ahead. If you know of a new experience is coming up for your child, like a visit to the dentist, it may be beneficial to read stories and to role-play so your child will know what to expect. When children are more prepared for these experiences, they are much more likely to recognize and choose appropriate responses and behaviors and less likely to be afraid or upset.
- Teach patience. Patient waiting describes an attitude about waiting. To promote a positive attitude, practice breathing exercises (Pretend to blow out birthday candles on your fingertips or pretend to blow up a balloon in your hand), do body exercises like stretching or pretending to have “sticky hands” (press hands together hard for 20 seconds and then slowly allow them to come apart). These activities provide a calming effect which lowers stress levels and can keep children calm while waiting for longer periods of time.
- Teach persistence. Challenges arise daily no matter your age. Teaching children resilience amid life’s challenges leads to success throughout life. Begin teaching positive self-talk (If a child states, “I can’t,” then the parent can state, “maybe not yet, but you will.”) Have the child identify things he or she can accomplish. Use this list for building confidence and reminding the child of many of things he has already learned.
Children who learn the skills of self-regulation become more well-rounded adults with stronger social relationships and achieve higher self-success academically then their peers who have not learned self-regulation. Remember these skills develop gradually over time so it is important to maintain developmentally appropriate expectations for growth in your child’s behavior.
Florez, I. (2011, July). “Developing Young Children’s Self-Regulation through everyday experiences.” Young Children. P 46-51. Retrieved from https://www.earlychildhoodireland.ie/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Self-Regulation_Florez_OnlineJuly20111.pdf
GreatSchools Staff. (1999). “Teaching Elementary Schoolers Self-Control.” Retrieved from http://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/teaching-self-control-3rd-though-5th-grade/
Markham, L. (2015, June 11). “8 Steps to Help Your Child Develop Self Control.” Retrieved from https://www.ahaparenting.com/_blog/Parenting_Blog/post/Help_Your_Child_Develop_Self_Control/
Shanker, S. (2016, Jul 11). Self-Reg: Self-Regulation vs. Self-Control: The reason for the profound differences lies deep inside the brain. Retrieved from
Zero to Three. (2014). “Teaching Your Child Discipline and Self-control.” Retrieved from https:// main.zerotothree.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ter_key_social_selfcontrol