Tips from an OT: Self-Regulation + Co-Regulation

Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation

Here at Project Play Therapy, we love helping our kids learn to regulate themselves. While we often talk about “self-regulation,” the reality is that most of our little ones need “co-regulation”– they need us, the adults in their lives, to join them in their efforts to regulate their brain, body, and emotions to meet the demands of the situation they’re in. We take inspiration from the book “The Whole Brain Child” by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson. While the whole book is an excellent read, today we’re sharing some strategies from their book that we find helpful!

1. “Connect, then Redirect”

When we’re upset, we don’t think reasonably and rationally– and neither do our kids! Before we can reason with them, we need to connect by making them feel safe and comfortable. Try a gentle touch or hug to calm your child before trying to talk about what’s upsetting them.

2.  “Name it to Tame it”

While our right brain processes emotions, our left brain works to make sense of those emotions and “tell the story.” We can help children learn to process big feelings by helping them label what they are feeling, and work together to solve their problem.

3. “Move it or Lose it”

Research shows that movement directly affects our brain chemistry. When our children are having a difficult time emotionally, we can help them regain their emotional balance and control by encouraging them to move their bodies.
We hope that these quick tips are helpful and informative for you and your family. Reach out to your occupational therapist if you have any questions about your child’s ability to self-regulate and co-regulate.

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