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Emotional Regulation

What is it?

Emotional Regulation refers to the ability to react appropriately to situations, such as: paying attention and following instructions in a class; not melting down at the shops and not exploding or imploding with peers. Having emotional self-regulation means the child is able to manage anxiety or anger and are able to express their feelings and process them appropriately. 

Why is this a problem?

If you have a child who has difficulty with their emotions, you may see some of the following:

  • refusal to go to school due to anxiety

  • outbursts at friends, peers or siblings

  • going instantly from laughing to crying 

  • being easily exhausted by social activities or school

  • having meltdowns when confornted with changes to their routine

  • seeking to control the household and every aspect of their lives - constant battle of wills 

  • socially or emotionally immature for their age

  • difficulty calming down after lunch breaks at school

  • struggling to maintain concentration in class 

  • having constant friendship problems

How can OT help?

Emotional self-regulation deficiences may have senory processing difficulties behind them.  In this case we would use the Alert Program to help children to put physical tools in place when they are feeling agitated or distracted. We use the Zones of Regulation Program to give children language to understand and express how they are feeling in any given moment, and to learn how to de-escalate their emotions.

For older children we look at issues exasperating them such as social anxiety, anger, being bullied or feeling powerless and how to deal with each of these problems. Therapy for older children may include practicing conversations and using charts and visuals to help them understand themselves better. At times we may invite parents in to sessions for 3-way discussions if sibling fighting is one of the concerns. 

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