Top ten self-regulation strategies for children.

Although a parent’s natural instinct is to protect their child from upset and anxiety, it is inevitable that children will face difficult situations sometimes: the birth of a sibling, a house move, bereavement within the family or an episode of bullying at school. Children need to acquire self-regulation skills and learn coping strategies in order to deal with challenging situations independently. 

  1. Make space for down-time. Take a break and spend some time doing the things you enjoy: practising your football skills, knitting, drawing, gaming, dancing, listening to music, Lego. You can then become absorbed in your interest rather than your worry.
  2. Enjoy some repetitive physical exercise. Running, skipping, cycling, dancing or bouncing on a trampoline will burn off stress. Repetitive activities are particularly effective as they require little by way of conscious thought or specialist skill. Exercise releases tension, improves mood, increases energy levels and promotes quality sleep.
  3. Read a book or listen to a streamed story. To lose oneself in a good book is an excellent distraction technique.
  4. Use music to change your mood. Music will affect your emotions. Upbeat music will make you feel more energetic and optimistic, while music with a slower tempo will be calming. 
  5. Focus on the needs of others rather than your own concerns. Helping others will take your mind off your worries and encourage a sense of perspective. There are certain to be others who are worse off than yourself. Remind yourself of this and re-direct your energy into helping in a practical way by, for example, decluttering your room and taking unused toys, books or bric-a-brac to a local charity shop.
  6. Be creative. Colouring, drawing, modelling or writing a journal will clear your thoughts and help you to see challenges from alternative viewpoints. 
  7. Get out in the fresh air. Getting outside, whatever the weather, is known to relieve feelings of stress and worry. Going for a walk, a bike ride or a jog around the local park will all provide healthy down-time.
  8. Spend time with animals. Animals are excellent at keeping secrets and will love you unconditionally. Take a dog for a walk, clean out a rabbit, hamster or guinea pig hutch. You can talk to a pet and the animal will listen, never interrupt or insist on talking about themself.
  9. Experiment with relaxation techniques. Look for YouTube clips on yoga, mindfulness or breathing exercises. You may find something new that will help you to relax.
  10. Plan ahead. Organise something pleasurable to look forward to: a shopping expedition, inviting a friend to your house, visiting a grandparent, or planning a trip to the cinema or swimming pool.

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