In my article, What in the World is Self-Regulation? Self-Regulation and Me!, I talked about self-regulation. This month I would like to provide more strategies for self-regulation, because I feel that it is a very important topic. In order to live a fulfilling life, you need to be able to regulate your emotions and behavior. Otherwise, it is very hard to cope, to go places, and to participate in the community knowing that at any time you could lose control.
A child is never too young to learn how to self-regulate, but he is also never too old. Sooner is better than later, but it is never too late! Once self-regulation is learned, it is easier to cope in everyday life. Personally, learning how to self-regulate has changed my life for the better.
Build a Self-Regulation Tool Box
There are many different strategies and tools that an individual can use to self-regulate. It is important to have multiple tools and strategies in your self-regulation toolbox. Sometimes a strategy or tool will work for a while, and then stop working. When this happens, I recommend putting the tool or strategy away in your toolbox for a later date. Months down the road, the strategy can be tried again. Sensory preferences change over time, therefore, something that helps calm an individual and regulate them one day, may not work the next.
I have spent many years of my life learning strategies to help me self-regulate and stay in control of my own behavior and emotions. And the hard work has paid off! I really need to thank my teachers and occupational therapist who have taught me many of these strategies. Remember, not all strategies work for all individuals.
- Deep Breathing
- Squeezing a sensory fidget such as a stress ball or putty
- Different Brain Gym exercises
- Counting to 10, 25, 5o, etc. in my head
- Taking a break (Stepping outside for a short moment, or going to the bathroom can be a great way to get a break when in a situation out in public.)
- Deep pressure input
- Using noise reducing headphones
- Using a weighted item, such as a weighted lap pad, weighted blanket, or weighted vest
- Listening to music
- Drawing or writing
- Engaging in an activity that I enjoy
- Rocking in a rocking chair, or moving in a chair that rotates
- Using something, such as an iPad, video game, book, etc to provide distraction from a stressful situation.
- Putting my head down on the table for a short time
- Using a small desk fan to help drown out certain noises
- Turning off the lights
- Using exercise equipment
- Taking a walk
- Using Kari Dunn Buron’s Five Point Scale
- Using a break card
- Writing down how I am feeling, and communicating through writing, because sometimes verbal communication can be harder for me.
- Using visual schedules so that the individual knows what to expect and when to expect it (Check out Judy Endow’s article Creating Visual Schedules On the Fly for Unpredictable Activities for ideas for quick and easy visual schedules that can be used on the go!)
I hope that these strategies prove to be helpful for you or an individual with an in your life who needs self-regulation support. Do not give up; teaching someone how to self-regulate will happen. Sometimes learning a new skill such as self-regulation just takes time. Self-regulation is a skill that took me many years and was frustrating at times, but learning this important skill was definitely worth every minute. I am glad that no one ever gave up on teaching me.
Please feel free to ask me questions in the comments below. Please share self-regulation strategies that have worked for your or someone you work with.
- Check out the resource section in my first article on self-regulation for more resources.
- The Alert Program: How Does My Engine Run? published by Therapy Works Inc.