Dysregulation in Kids
Well Summer is coming to an end and the school year is upon us. Our blog took a short break over the summer months but we are back and have even more content planned for the rest of the year! To kick start, we are looking at some Back 2 School Tips this week.
First up, dysregulation. That's a really big word and one that sounds really scary but what does it mean? Dysregulation occurs when your brain responds to the sensory data around you in a manner that triggers an alarm state. For kids though, this can be very hard to comprehend and understand and in turn cope with. Below are 3 ways to help your kids during these emotional triggers.
Remember the Three R's:
1- Regulate: Focus on ways to help soothe your child. From a preventative standpoint we would do some of this therapy with learning coping skills. Then when a child feels an emotional trigger, they can have resources and skills to pull from to help them calm down and self-soothe. As a parent, you can help your child feel calm, safe and loved. You can practice coping skills with them as well which we call modeling.
2- Relate: Validate their feelings. Try phrases that are supportive and helpful such as "I know you are upset right now," or "This is very hard!" or even "Mom gets upset too!" Be sure to focus on feeling words which helps increase their emotional IQ.
3- Reason: Once your child has returned to a calm state, try talking with them about what happened. Try suggesting alternatives for next time they are upset. Try reinforcing limits you set beforehand (i.e. "We don't throw toys when we are upset" or "We don't bite/pinch/scratch when we are upset") Be sure to reassure your child that you love them and are trying to help them manage those big feelings. If they are being talkative, ask open ended questions about what happened and try emotion coaching on their feelings awareness.
As long as a child is in the state of dysregulation, they will struggle to feel connected with you. Until they are able to relate with you, they are not likely to be able to reason with what happened. Until they can reason with what happened, they will struggle with managing those emotions!