What is this new buzz word, self-regulation? Is it another behaviour management strategy based theory that if we all just follow our classes will miraculously be quiet, amicable and compliant?
Self-regulation is most certainly almost never any of the above. It is instead a paradigm revolution.
Children who are stressed will behave in ways that may or may not be socially acceptable. Often children who are under great deals of stress will exhibit behaviour that educators try to manage. With good intentions we have the child do something that we believe will help calm and relax them. What we are missing is the literal meaning in self-regulation.
SELF- regulation- Is the ability to regulate the self. It is recognising and understanding our own emotions and our reactions to predictable and unpredictable events that cause us stress.
As educators, care givers or parents it is our job to listen, observe and assist a child who may be experiencing stress. It is identifying and understanding those hidden stressors which are devastating for one child and pleasing for another. It is creating a relationship with the child that says, I know you, I care about how you feel and I want to help you find ways to identify and manage your emotions.
In order to accomplish this we must first find our own ways of coping and dealing with our emotions. What do we do when we are stressed? Is running on a hard paved road a stress reliever, a quiet walk in the woods or maybe a sit down listening to music? Which ever you choose will likely be very different from what your spouse, colleague or friend may choose. Consider this when creating strategies for the children in your life. They need to see the strategies you use in action and then have many choices to self -select ways to calm.
It’s all about relationships and understanding the difficulty in dealing with stress.
By Gail Molenaar RECE
Forest and Nature School Practitioner