Seek to understand the behavior

Helping children to self-regulate

  • Self-regulation is the ability to manage your emotions and behavior in accordance with the demands of the situation. It includes being able to resist highly emotional reactions to upsetting stimuli, to calm yourself down when you get upset, to adjust to a change in expectations and to handle frustration without an outburst. It is a set of skills that enables children, as they mature, to direct their own behavior towards a goal, despite the unpredictability of the world and our own feelings.

    When a child is having a meltdown, you can teach them phrases and strategies to help them to calm down. The following are phrases and strategies you can teach your child to help them be in control of their emotions.

    When I'm upset, I can...

    • Go for a walk
    • Do jumping jacks
    • Count to 10, to 100
    • Count back from 10
    • Take deep breaths
    • Talk to a friend
    • Get a drink of water
    • Relax in a comfy chair 
    • Squeeze a squishy ball, or fidget
    • Blow on a pinwheel
    • Blow bubbles
    • Doodle
    • Bounce a ball
    • Read a book
    • Listen to music
    • Try kids yoga poses
    • Chew a piece of gum
    • Hug a stuffed animal
    • Write about your feelings. Keep a journal.
    • Notice and name how you feel
    • Think of somethin happy
    • Build with blocks or Lincoln Logs
    • Talk to a grown up
    • Try meditation or mindfulness and focus on your breathing
    • Squeeze silly putty or playdough
    • Do something physical; ride a bike, go running, etc

    ***Always reassure your child you love them, it's the behavior you dislike. They are having a rough moment, not a bad day.