Learning to regulate our bodies and our emotions is an important part of the human experience. This process starts the day we are born as we learn to get our physical needs met (i.e. hunger, body temperature). Then, as we grow and our needs become more complex, we start the process of learning to regulate our feelings and emotions.
Navigating emotions can be just as confusing, uncomfortable, and dysregulating as managing our physical discomforts. So if we do not expect a baby to know exactly how to cope with being cold or hungry, why then should we expect them to know how to manage anger or sadness? As a licensed child and family therapist, I meet with families and their little ones, to address concerns about their child’s behaviors. The first topic we typically discuss is emotional regulation, since the inability of a child to safely and effectively manage emotions is oftentimes itself the cause of challenging or worrisome behaviors. Here are six ways we as caretakers can set the stage for children to develop healthy self-regulation skills for life.