If your self-regulation is at a low level, can you recover? Of course you can! We’re all pretty resilient in our own ways. There are always things you can do to recover. Self-regulation may be limited in amount but it can bounce back.
You might not avoid self-regulation failure all the time. But there are some things you can do to recover and increase your self-regulation:
1. Get some sleep – the world can seem a more positive place once you get some decent sleep. Make sure your child is well-rested. That alone will help strengthen self-regulation.
2. Practice Turtle Breathing – very often, if you can help children learn to calm themselves, they can regain self-regulation. Of course, you teach Turtle Breathing when they’re calm – not when they’re losing self-regulation. You USE it when they first seem to be losing self-regulation.
3. Do/think of something pleasurable – this is a good way to get your child in a more positive frame of mind – “Let’s think about when we were at the beach. You remember the warm sand ….” or “Let’s make a picture in our heads of your dog”. Help them picture something they really enjoy. You can also do something your child really enjoys. Do something sensory – have a warm bath, play with a sensory toy. These things will help them restore some balance and regain self-regulation.
4. Develop a sense of humor about yourself – I often joke with children, “oh those silly hands forgot to …” or “Boy, those swears really sneaked out your mouth like nobody’s business!”Sometimes, you just have to see the humor in a situation and move on. Humor helps to calm and restore a positive mood.
5. Work on self-regulation – self-regulation is like a muscle – the more you practice and use it, the stronger it gets. The other strategies in this list will help you get in a better state to self-regulate. But it’s the direct work you do on self-regulation that really matters.
6. Reward your self-regulation – I’m not a big fan of rewarding behavior but it certainly can help you get through some rough spots. Make a deal with your child (“If you can ….., we’ll go to your favorite …”) that’ll reward using self-regulation. Use it yourself – “if I get … done, I can watch my favorite movie.” It all helps.