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Emotional Regulation: Why Is It So Important?

It's no secret that emotions can be difficult to deal with. We've all been there– feeling so overwhelmed by anger, sadness, or anxiety that we can't think straight. For children with special needs, it’s even harder for them, which leads to disruptive outbursts or angry meltdowns.

Emotional regulation is the process of managing emotions healthily. It can be particularly helpful in many different situations, such as when dealing with a difficult person or managing stress.

Benefits Of Emotional Self-Regulation

When children learn to self-regulate their emotions, they are less likely to act out, fly off the handle, or become overwhelmed. Instead, they are more likely to be able to respond to others more positively, see both sides of an argument, or even find a compromise that works for everyone involved. Through this, they can focus on the task and get more done. They may also find it easier to stay motivated and persist through difficult tasks.

Different Ways To Regulate Emotions

There are different solutions that children use to deal with their emotions. Some may cry when they are feeling sad, while others may try to bottle up their feelings. However, there are a variety of different techniques that they can use to better regulate their emotions.

1. Create a routine

Having a set routine can help to ground children and make them feel more in control of their emotions. Parents can create contingency plans for when their child gets angry or upset.

For example, you can teach your child some deep breathing exercises. When they start to feel angry, encourage them to take slow, deep breaths through their nose and out through their mouth, while counting from 1 to 10. This will help to slow down their heart rate and relax their muscles. For younger children who do not yet know how to count, they can be thought to imagine that they are blowing out candles.

You can also try having them imagine a peaceful place, such as a beach or a meadow. Visualisation can be a helpful way to distract your child from the angry feelings and focus on something calming instead. Since it works best with an a place your child likes, a conversation to discuss this place, how it looks like and why your child likes the place, may be beneficial when introducing this strategy to them.

These contingency routines can help to provide a sense of structure, which can be particularly helpful when your child is feeling overwhelmed or lost.

2. Give choices

Giving a child the opportunity to make choices can help them to feel more in control of his environment. For example, you can offer them a choice of two activities to do when they're feeling angry. This could include activities to calm them down like going for a walk or run outside or an outlet to release their anger safely like scribbling in a book or writing about their feelings in a diary.. It would be good to discuss the different activities with them when they are calm and not angry so that they are aware of their choices before negative emotions kick in and possibly hinder their decision-making. By offering your child choices, you distract them from the situation and empower them to make decisions for themself

3. Provide opportunities for self-expression

Besides giving choices, parents can also create opportunities for children to express their emotions in healthy ways. For example, art provides a creative outlet for kids to express themselves, music can be therapeutic and help children to relax, while exercise is a great way to release energy and pent-up emotions.

Another way is to let your child try talking to someone in a safe space. This can be a friend, an adult, or even a therapist or psychologist from a child therapy centre. Learning how to identify, label, and talk about his emotions can help your child better manage his feelings.

At MindChamps Allied Care, we have trained child therapists and teachers that work closely with both parent and child to understand their needs and work out short- and long-term goals, such as understanding and expressing their emotions in healthy ways. Book a centre visit or find an Allied Care child therapy centre to find out more today!

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