Co-regulation: Elementary Years

Written by Kristin Tallackson, M.A., LPC (OH), LPC Intern (TX) 

Through the elementary years, children gain insight on how to better control their emotions, behavior, and attention. Children gain the ability to cope with impulses and delayed gratification. Children begun to think about thought processes, emotion, and develop critical thinking skills. As these skills grow, environmental demands at school and home become more complex (Murray et., al, 2015). With children’s growing mental capacity, this is a great time for caregivers to seize the opportunity to teach and instruct children on self-regulatory skills. Here are some skills to teach and practice in the elementary years:

 

  • Emotional literacy- go beyond primary emotions, begin teaching more complex emotions such as pride, provoked, confused, and curious. See this Emotion Wheel to help with expressing more complex emotions. 

  • Emotion regulation: Teaching kids the difference between a “big” problem such as a natural disaster and a “little” problem such as someone didn’t share.

  • Using mindfulness activities such as square breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or positive self-talk.

  • Social flexibility and perspective taking “How do you think your friend sees this”

  • Paying attention and staying focused by using impulse control

  • Working independently and in groups when needed

  • Unexpected and expected behavior

  • Persistence with difficult tasks

  • Problem-solving skills and flexible thinking

  • Working independently and in groups when needed

  • Unexpected and expected behavior

  • Persistence with difficult tasks

  • Problem-solving skills and flexible thinking

Caregivers, self-regulation skills are best learned when co-regulation is used. As always, remember: you are your child’s greatest role model. They will learn to self-regulate by the way they see you self-regulate.