Development Therapy, LLC

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The Road To Self-Regulation


As parents, one of the most valuable gifts you can offer your child is the ability to self-regulate. Self-regulation encompasses various essential skills, including emotional regulation, interoception, environmental modification, frustration tolerance, self-esteem, self-awareness, impulse control, and coping skills. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore each of these components and provide practical tips to help you empower your child to develop strong self-regulation abilities.

1. Emotional Regulation

Teaching your child to manage their emotions is a fundamental building block for self-regulation:

  • Emotion Identification: Encourage your child to label and talk about their emotions.

  • Model Emotional Control: Demonstrate how to handle your emotions calmly and constructively.

  • Breathing Exercises: Teach your child simple deep breathing exercises to help them calm down when upset.

2. Interoception

Helping your child connect with their body can improve emotional regulation:

  • Body Awareness Games: Engage in activities that focus on bodily sensations, like “body scanning” before bedtime.

  • Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Emphasize the importance of eating well, staying active, and getting enough sleep.

3. Environmental Modification

Adapting the environment can make a significant difference in your child’s self-regulation:

  • Create a Calm Space: Designate a quiet area where your child can retreat to when they need to calm down.

  • Routine and Structure: Establish a consistent daily routine to reduce stress and uncertainty.

  • Positive Peer Influence: Encourage your child to spend time with friends who support self-regulation.

4. Frustration Tolerance

Teach your child how to handle frustration effectively:

  • Patience Practice: Engage in activities that require patience, such as building puzzles or waiting in line.

  • Problem-Solving: Encourage your child to think of solutions when they encounter difficulties.

5. Self-Esteem

Boosting your child’s self-esteem is essential for their self-regulation journey:

  • Praise Effort: Focus on acknowledging your child’s effort rather than just their achievements.

  • Set Realistic Goals: Help your child set achievable goals and celebrate their successes, no matter how small.

6. Self-Awareness

Foster self-awareness in your child to help them understand their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors:

  • Encourage Journaling: Provide a journal for your child to express their thoughts and emotions.

  • Open Communication: Create an environment where your child feels safe sharing their feelings and concerns with you.

7. Impulse Control

Teaching your child to control their impulses is crucial for decision-making:

  • Delay Gratification: Encourage your child to wait for rewards and teach them the value of patience.

  • Think Before Acting: Encourage your child to pause and consider consequences before making impulsive decisions.

8. Coping Skills

Equip your child with healthy coping mechanisms:

  • Relaxation Techniques: Teach relaxation exercises like deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.

  • Seeking Support: Let your child know it’s okay to ask for help when they’re struggling with challenging emotions.


Empowering your child with self-regulation skills is a lifelong gift that will serve them well in various aspects of life. By nurturing their emotional regulation, interoception, environmental awareness, frustration tolerance, self-esteem, self-awareness, impulse control, and coping skills, you’re providing them with a strong foundation for emotional well-being and success.


Remember that children learn through observation and practice, so be a role model for self-regulation and offer guidance and support as they navigate their own self-regulation journey. It’s also important to know that if you ever feel the need for professional assistance, occupational therapists can be invaluable partners in this process. Occupational therapists are trained to help children and their families develop these crucial skills, tailoring their guidance to the specific needs of your child. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified occupational therapist if you believe your child could benefit from additional support on their path to self-regulation. Together, you can provide your child with the tools they need to thrive emotionally and succeed in life.

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