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3 Practical Strategies to Help Support Self-Regulation

One of the hardest things to watch is to see your child melting down and wondering how to comfort and soothe him.  As a pediatric OT, I’m always brainstorming ‘pro-active’ strategies for parents to use and how to read and understand their child’s cues.

I find myself often recommending the following 3 ‘pro-active’ strategies:

  • Be a Detective-  Be a ‘detective’ and watch for signs or patterns of behavior leading to your child’s meltdowns.  This can help to better understand what might be common triggers, such as loud sounds, busy environment, the demands of the activity are just some examples.  It might be helpful to write or journal these observations, so you can better identify the patterns.  Once you have a sense of possible triggers for these meltdowns (whether it be the environment or the situation at hand), you can equip yourself with the following suggestions.
  • ‘Body checks’-  Comparing your child’s energy level to an engine in a car helps to connect the awareness that just like a car, we move and function at different speeds throughout our day. Sometimes though our body, just like a car, can move at ‘too high’ or ‘too fast’ of speed, which can be unsafe or can cause us to lose control. When in a setting that is inclined to overstimulate (birthday parties, play dates, etc.), have your child do a ‘body-check’ here and there, to let you know where his ‘engine’/body speed is running.  Use simple words, such as ‘high’, ‘medium’, ‘low’ speed. The ‘body-checks’ help a child build more awareness of her body and increasing energy levels, as well as helps to break up the stimulation that may be building in that moment.
  • Create a Non-verbal Signal- Create a non verbal signal/gesture that you can use with your child to signify his ‘engine’/body speed is beginning to get into the ‘danger’ or ‘too fast’ zone. This can be used to catch your child’s attention when he is playing with friends, without having to use words, which can add to the stimulation.  Teach the signal beforehand and remind your child to be on the look out for it.

And of course, a wonderful ‘pro-active and ‘re-active’ strategy can be wearing and using RelaxPack to help calm, regroup, and soothe!