Children and Emotions

Self-regulation: Is it really about self?

Self regulation

Last week I talked a little bit about the RIE® conference in my post. Along with learning about my oh-hum mode I also learned about helping children regulate their aggression. I got the privilege to hear Ruth Anne Hammond speak on Regulating aggression in young children: working with their instincts, not against them.

One of the pieces of information that really stuck with me from this presentation was a diagram that Ruth made. It was similar to this one:

Auto regulation + co regulation = self-regulation

It’s the idea that for a child to self-regulate, which is what we want, they need to regulate their emotions on their own and we also need to help them. This really made me think about the expectations that I have for the children in my classroom (ages 2-2.5 years). I expect them to be really independent because they are so capable and they can do many many things on their own. This equation reminded me that they also need my help and support. I tended to step back and let things happen but this equation changed my feelings a little bit. It’s important to step back at times but it’s also important to step in and support children in being able to self-regulate.

What I’m really wondering about is….what is the perfect balance of giving children opportunities to auto regulate and stepping in to co regulate? When does this equation really equal self-regulation? Does this equation always equal the child one day being able to self-regulate? I know I can auto regulate to solve some problems and handle some of my own emotions but I still need someone to help me more often than I think. So is self-regulation really about self (doing it on your own)? Or is it about knowing how much you can do on your own and when to ask for help? Is self-regulation more about working with someone than working alone? Hmmmm lots to think about…

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