Emotional regulation is the way we express and control our emotions. We use our emotional regulation skills daily as we seek to understand and respond to situations and engage with other people.
The ability to express and control our emotions might seem like something that should come naturally but children need to learn how to regulate their emotions, and for children this means learning from the behaviour modelled and supported by their families or carers.
Lynne Roberts, whose role with SDN Children’s Services is to support our work with families to be more therapeutic, says that emotional regulation skills learned in childhood are taken into adulthood and will form one of their key life skills.
“Research tells us that emotional regulation skills are associated with positive mental health, building strong friendships, and performing better at school.” Lynne said, “Supporting children to understand and manage emotions provides them with skills that they will use in adulthood.”
Children need adults to tune into them ‘mindfully’ to help them to regulate their emotions until they learn how to manage these emotions themselves, but tuning in and modelling positive emotional regulation skills is not always easy.
“Research regarding parenting has moved from a single focus on managing children’s behaviour to understanding the meaning and ‘need’ underneath the behaviour. Thus for many families the focus on supporting their child to regulate emotions is relatively new and something they may not have experienced in their own childhood”.
Lynne suggests there are a number of strategies families may want to use to help their child or children develop good emotional regulation skills;
• Provide structure and predictability to your child’s day
• Support your children to recognise and name their emotions as they are happening
• Make it normal to talk about emotions
• Accept that all emotions are okay and try to see things from the child’s point of view
• Tune into your child by parenting mindfully
Lynne also points out that it’s important to remember that emotional regulation is learned and not innate and would recommend there are a number of useful resources families can access including Parenting Counts website http://www.parentingcounts.org/
Interested? Want to know more?
Our Brighter Futures team have compiled more thorough information here.
If you are looking for more parenting resources the Brighter Futures team recommends the following;
• Mindful Parenting- A Bringing up Great Kids Resource (2012) Australian Childhood Foundation
• Parenting Counts. Information for parents: Emotion Coaching
• Parenting Counts. Information for parents: Praise
• Parenting Counts. Information for parents: Self-Regulation
• Parenting Counts. Information for parents: Temperament
SDN Brighter Futures is a program for families who are expecting a child or have children up to and including eight years of age, and who are facing problems that are affecting their ability to care for their children. The program provides families with the necessary support and services to help prevent an escalation of the problems they are facing.