Children with Problems Self-Regulating

When children are of an age where they should have self-control but don't react appropriately, they may have problems with self-regulation.

Last update: 30 August, 2020

Have you ever noticed that your child acts impulsively in an emotional situation? Do they find it difficult to calm down in certain circumstances? This can happen to children with problems self-regulating. Next, we’re going to look at what we can do when a child has this type of problem.

Many situations require the ability to self-regulate. Children need to have self-regulation skills in their day-to-day life.

Often, children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or those with sensory processing problems lack this ability. This means that they sometimes don’t know how to self-regulate in emotionally charged situations.

Children with problems self-regulating: What is self-regulation?

While it’s easy to confuse self-control and self-regulation, these are two different things that are related.

  • Self-control. This is a social skill that helps children control their behavior, impulses, and emotions.
  • Self-regulation. This is also a skill, but it’s about managing emotions, behaviors, and body movements when we’re faced with a complicated or difficult situation. It can make children pay attention and focus on the situation.

Self-regulation helps children know how to calm down if they’re upset, preventing outbursts of frustration. For example, it’s normal for a 4-year-old to have tantrums because they haven’t learned to self-regulate yet. However, if a 12-year-old is doing it, this means that they have problems self-regulating.

How does self-regulation work?

To understand self-regulation, you can think about the idea of a thermostat. What does a thermostat do? The mechanism is to adjust and maintain the temperature of a room. When the room reaches a certain temperature, it will turn off and then turn on again when it drops below that temperature. You set a point where the heat will turn off.

Self-regulation is a similar process. Children also have a “set point” where they have the ability to control their emotions and behaviors appropriately.

However, to maintain control, they have to know what their set point is so in any given situation, they can assess how they’re feeling and react so they don’t exceed that point. This process deals with how they process information and emotions and knowing what to do with them.

Problems self-regulating and ADHD

It’s often difficult for children with ADHD to control their emotions, which is why they can react out of proportion. You should also remember that children with this problem also lack adequate impulse control and can act inappropriately in relation to the situations they face.

It’s because of all this that children sometimes react in an exaggerated way because they aren’t able to stop and think about the situation or look for solutions.

Problems self-regulating and sensory processing difficulties

Children with sensory processing difficulties have problems using sensory information, such as information they receive from touch, sight, hearing, smell, tastes, and others, like interception, proprioception, and vestibular.

The origin of the problem is the nervous system, which has difficulty regulating itself. For this reason, if the child is in a situation where there are a lot of sensory concerns, they aren’t capable of self-regulating, which leads to uncontrolled emotions and behaviors.

How can we help children with problems self-regulating?

There are ways to help children with problems self-regulating, but how? The first thing to do is know when the way you perceive information is a problem, either through the senses or through thoughts.

What steps does self-regulation require?

  • Self-awareness. Whether self-regulation problems come from a child having issues with ADHD or sensory processing difficulties, you need to help the child see which situations cause emotional stress. For example, if you anticipate an event will cause the child to have a bad reaction, you can let them know in advance. They can help them prepare themselves.
  • Impulse control. A child with ADHD, regardless of whether they know there are solutions to certain situations, can’t avoid the impulse to become angry or frustrated. As a result, parents play an important role in helping them manage their emotions and reactions more appropriately and teaching them skills to overcome these issues.
  • Set goals. You need to work to set realistic, small goals so that little by little, the child is able to reach bigger goals.

Helping children with problems self-regulating

As we’ve seen, some children have problems self-regulating. It’s also important that you know how your children should develop with respect to their age. In addition to everything else, parents can also talk with their children to explain what their “set point” is and where they are.

However, you should always show them ways to handle frustration and anger. Also, children with this problem can use a self-regulation activity sheet.

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