Self-regulation isn't something that comes easy to kids. In fact, it often takes a lot of time and patience to help kids learn how to self-regulate. However, self-regulation is crucial for children to learn, especially if they're going to be heading off to school. Occupational therapy is a great way to help kids master the concept of self-regulation. If your child is going to be working with an occupational therapist, it's important to note that all the work won't be done with the therapist. In fact, there are quite a few things you can do right at home to help your child learn how to regulate their own emotions. Here are three simple steps you can do at home to help your child.
Control Their Breathing
When kids have a melt-down, it's often their breathing that gives the first hint that they're losing control. If you want to help your child learn to work through the melt-downs, you need to help them learn to control their breathing. You can do that in a number of ways. One was is to bring out the colorful pinwheel. Place the pinwheel in front of your child and begin to blow on it. Have your child help you turn the pinwheel so they can see the colors change. As your child focuses on turning the pinwheel, their breathing will slow down and they'll be able to control their breaths. Once your child's breathing has slowed down, have them count each breath with you by exhaling to the count of five and then inhaling to the count of five.
Calm Them Down
If your child is losing control of their emotions, but they're still in control of their breathing, it's time to take action to calm them down. One way to do that is through touch. Be prepared with a variety of tactile objects you can use to help your child focus on the sensation of what they're feeling with through touch. Smooth stones are an excellent choice for children. They can hold the smooth stones in their hands and rub them with their fingers. Soft foam balls are another excellent choice. Your child can squeeze the ball as they focus on calming down. You can also use play dough to calm your child down. They can feel the dough squeeze between their fingers, which will take the focus away from their emotional breakdown.
Channel Their Frustration
Once your child has calmed down, it will be the perfect time to channel their frustration. Coloring is a simple way to help your child get past the frustration that has them losing control of their emotions. Bring a coloring book and some crayons out, and sit down with your child at the table. You can both sit quietly and color together. The quiet time will give your child the opportunity to calm down, and still know that you're nearby should they need you.
If your child will be going through occupational therapy, and use the tips provided here to help facilitate their therapy. Ask your child's occupational therapist for other methods you can use at home to help your child learn to self-regulate.