Emotional regulation is a challenge parents, teachers and occupational therapists face when working with children of all ages. While it’s easier to believe that kids will outgrow their meltdowns and tantrums, for many this behavior follows them as they grow and harms their social emotional development. Some will struggle with anxiety, problems in school, not fitting in with others and more. All the energy and time we spend as parents, teachers and therapists to help children regulate their emotions is a worthwhile endeavor that serves them well throughout their adolescence and their entire lives.
Even when you narrow the scope to occupational therapy, there are countless methods when working with children in need of emotional regulation. Like you, our goal as therapists is to find a solution that makes things better or easier for the children we work with. We are fully aware of our opportunity to help influence how they handle anxiety, bullying, and social issues now and in the future. And like you, when we see a child begin to struggle, our instinct to “fix” it kicks into overdrive. Instead, our goal is to give children – regardless of age – the tools they need to manage their emotions.
The article below discusses the benefits of teaching children how their brains work so they can begin to understand why they sometimes react or behave in certain ways. We believe that the more any of us understand about anything the better off we are. While this article has specific ideas for teaching younger children, the premise can be adjusted for conversations with kids at any developmental level. The thought of “flipping your lid” is one that most pre-teens we know can easily identify with!
Don’t underestimate them, giving children an opportunity to understand their brains and what occurs during an anxiety attack or argument, for example, is giving them power to eventually take some control. Assuming they will not understand does a disservice to them and to our relationship with them as the adults trusted for help and guidance.