How can I support my child with emotional regulation?

As a children’s therapist, I often work with parents to help them with understanding their child and supporting emotional regulation skills. Here are some tips regarding how you can assist them when they are feeling dysregulated.

  1. Validate their feelings- when a child is experiencing heightened emotions, acknowledge and validate their feelings. This is done by showing empathy and understanding, and letting them know that the emotions they are experience are typical and acceptable

  2. Directly teach coping mechanisms- you can help your child learn healthy coping mechanisms that work for them whilst they are experiencing these emotions. Examples of these are belly breathing, deep and slow breaths and breathing exercises, journaling, drawing or physical activities such as going for a walk, reading a book, listening to music, or squeezing a stress play or playdough

  3. Set clear boundaries- while it is important to validate a child’s feelings, it is also important to set boundaries around behaviour. You can assist your child with understanding that it is okay to feel angry and upset, it is not okay to demonstrate behaviours that may hurt themselves or others

  4. Encourage self-regulation- helping your child to develop self-awareness around their emotions is an important part of emotional regulation. You can encourage your child to reflect on their emotions and explore and label what triggers them, as well as which coping mechanisms work best for them to use

  5. Modelling- model healthy emotional regulation around your child. By modelling healthy and safe emotional regulation in front of your child, you can directly show and teach them through demonstration. This can be by showing your own coping mechanisms and managing your own emotions in an effective and constructive way. Children learn by example, so modeling these healthy and useful behaviours is a very powerful way to support your child’s development in this area

    Written by:
    Renee Butler
    SACAC Counselling