Change is a tricky word, especially when used in context to “changing” how others self-regulate their behavior. Whether it is your significant other, a co-worker, friend or child, it’s important to stay in a growth mindset both for yourself and the person perceived as needing to change. Plot twist! Starting by regulating our own behavior is key to working with anyone who needs compassion to help regulate his or her own..
When helping children to handle emotions, success begins by not assuming they possess the ability that allows them to regulate their bodies and thoughts to control their behaviors. Children begin acquiring the capacity to self-regulate at age three or four and continue to develop it throughout childhood. Many behaviorally challenged children have not yet mastered this ability, therefore our expectations don’t always align with their capabilities. It’s our job to create an environment that fosters growth, rather than feelings of shame or inadequacy when behavior issues arise.
THIS article by Mona Delahooke, PH.D. and author of Beyond Behaviors: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children’s Behavioral Challenges, discusses how our expectations can often differ from the child’s capacity to self-regulate. Her insight into the developmental process of self-regulation is a must-read for all parents. Gaining a better understanding of “top-down” control and building a child’s brain from the “bottom-up” strengthens the ability of parents, teachers and caregivers to guide children through a happier and healthier childhood.
“When we are present with children, and compassionately aware of our own emotions, we preserve the most precious factor in a child’s process of developing self-regulation: human connection.”