Supporting Emotion Regulation Skill Development in Children

Every child comes into the world with unique characteristics. However, the positive and healthy experiences he has gained from the moment he was born contribute to his emotional development. Emotional recordings begin from the time the baby is in the womb. The baby develops the ability to regulate his emotions in line with the attachment relationship he establishes with his parent/primary caregiver. For this reason, the strong, consistent and positive bond established with the parent/primary caregiver is an important factor for the development of emotion regulation skills.

Emotion regulation (regulation) skill can be briefly defined as giving the most appropriate reaction by stopping and managing thought, behavior and body instead of giving an impulsive reaction when faced with a difficult situation. Children are not born with this ability. They tend to be more impulsive and egocentric in the 0-3 age period, which we define as the early period. As mentioned, the child’s attachment style and the experiences he has gained in life from the mother’s womb determine the level of development of emotion regulation skills.

The child’s behavior is not a ‘problem’; It is his reaction to the problem he is facing. A child who has not developed the ability to regulate their emotions and has not learned to calm themselves exhibits behaviors that are defined as ‘problem’. It should be remembered here; Such behavior is an expression of the brain under stress. At this point, the child needs the support and guidance of the parent/primary caregiver.

The development of the ability to regulate emotions also contributes to the development of the ability to comply with limits, solve problems, tolerate waiting / procrastination. All these help the child to function better in academic and social areas.

Some methods that can be applied to teach children to regulate their emotions;

  1. First of all, support your child in recognizing and expressing their own feelings. Ask him how he feels about a situation. If he has trouble recognizing or expressing his feelings, you can help. eg. ‘I think this situation may have upset you’ You can chat with your child about feelings that cannot be prevented, that they will be guests for a while when they come and then they will leave.

  2. Let your child relax first when faced with a challenging situation. It is not possible to produce a solution without relieving the negative and compelling emotions felt. Encourage your child to discover resources that relax him. For example; You can prepare a box in which you can put comforting things. Snacks he likes, a scent he likes, a material he likes to touch-relax, etc. you can put You can also create a calming/relaxing corner in your home. You can create spaces where there are comfortable cushions, where you keep your favorite books, and where there are quiet and pleasant toys. A tiny blanket and plush toys also contribute to a warm and relaxing environment. In addition, it is important to be with your child when he is experiencing negative emotions and to make them feel your support. You can give the message that feelings are not permanent by using sentences such as ‘When you calm down, when all this passes…’.

  3. Be a role model for your child in regulating emotions and giving appropriate responses. You can share examples from your own life where you have been able to respond appropriately by controlling your experiences, emotions and behaviors.

When you teach your children to regulate their emotions, you will teach them something important about coping with difficulties. You can guide your child by keeping in mind that emotion management is a skill that can be developed.

Suggestions for books to help develop emotional awareness in children;

  1. Space 3+-Anna Llenas

  2. Emotions 3+-Libby Walden, Richard Jones

  3. When Sorrow Knocks on Your Door 3+-Eva Eland

  4. Contents of My Little Heart 3+-Jo Witek, Christine Roussey

  5. Cuisine of Emotions 4+-Marc Nemiroff, Jane Annunziata

  6. The Child Who Befriends His Feelings 4+-Dr. Lauren Rubenstein

  7. Bird of Heart 4+-Michal Snunit

  8. My Feelings 5+-Isabelle Filliozat

  9. Noa, Hedgehog and Yellow 5+-Sepin İnceer

  10. Emotional Communication Skills for Children 3-12 years-Bonnie Thomas

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