Emotional regulation is a way to describe how we express our emotions and how we experience and modulate them within ourselves. It is such an important skill because it impacts most other areas of life – how your child engages with others, friendships, academic performance when they’re older, and their mental health.
I always speak with parents about being proactive when it comes to teaching new skills to children, and this certainly applies to educating your child about emotional regulation. Teaching this skill is about supporting their feelings and showing them how to adequately manage their emotions.
Teaching outside of the big, heightened moments means your child is able to take on new information more easily – but how can you teach them about emotional regulation outside of the moment AND keep their attention?
- Calm jars provide visual sensory stimulation, in turn providing a calming and distracting effect. They can be added to a sensory toolbox for your child to help them regulate when feeling emotionally heightened. You can make one by adding glitter glue, glitter, and water to a clear jar or plastic bottle, sealing it up, and shaking it. Your child can watch the glitter slowly make its way down to the bottom of the bottle or jar. This encourages their mind to focus on the glitter which stops them from thinking about other things. It allows your child to be still for a moment and can really help with providing a fun tool for relaxation. Making it together is really fun as well!
- Worry Box – We’ve all had that moment, just as we are tucking our child into bed when they burst into tears and divulge their worries which they’ve bottled up all day long only to reveal right as mum or dad are about to put their feet up and relax! I always suggest making a worry box to avoid this – it allows you to set aside time each day to discuss any worries so that they don’t pop up at bedtime. Using an old shoe or tissue box, decorate and turn it into a personalised worry box. Spend time with your child writing down or drawing their worries on some strips of paper and put them in the box once you’ve chatted about the worries so your child has a sense of closure. This can allow the worries to not take up any more space in your little’s mind. Dedicating a time for this that is not close to bedtime means that worries shouldn’t pop up too frequently at inopportune times and impact sleep and bedtime.
So, hang on to your old bottles and boxes and get a collection of your crafty materials together so you and your child can get crafty and learn new ways of managing emotions.