What if we all understood Self-Regulation?
The embracing of Self-Reg has begun and is being talked about in many classrooms across our nation. We hang posters, talk about it with our colleagues and parents, and drop the ideal language as though we know it’s significance. Before you know it we build quiet, cosy corners in our classroom, read stories about emotions, deliver a few common programs that have been recommended and expect all to fall into place. After all this is the new age of self-regulation and we are on board!
We’ve started by reading Stuart Shankers ‘Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage With Life’, which is the ultimate guide to Self-Reg. The 5 steps of this method include:
Recognise the Stressors
Reduce the Stress
Reflect: Stress Awareness
Respond: Restoration and Resilience
When practicing Self-Reg we use these steps to guide us, teach ourselves what to look for, how to help and then how to manage in the future. This guide is a starting point to relationship building and improved quality of life. It is a Paradigm Revolution.
So Who Is Our Focus?
Our focus is always the people we are in charge of, our family, students or clients. It is almost always directly linked to a child showing difficulty in social relationships or coping with expectations in general. We place so much focus on the child that we forget about our own challenges of self-regulation. But how important is that, you may ask?
It is critical.
What if we started to recognise our own challenges and stress behaviour?
What I need to help me find just the right thing is, CALM. Lend me your calm so that I may find my own. Then I may be able to utilise the strategies I know will work.
What if we all practiced Shanker Self-Reg™️?
Shanker Self-Reg™️ is a process of understanding and managing your own stress behaviour. Shanker Self-Reg ™️ shows us why and shows us how. The most critical piece is, are we listening?
What if we thought of autonomy as progressive and valuable, and that children are capable of finding the right strategy at the right time, when they need it?
Children as young as 3 years old are able to self-regulate. Typically the most effective method of learning to self-regulate is through others, we call this co-regulating. When the adult or caregiver in the child’s life exhibits calm responses to disappointing events, the child takes internal notes on how this was managed. The connection we use is called Limbic Resonance and it involves the Interbrain. Dr. Stuart Shanker refers to it as the “Bluetooth Connection”. This is the foundation of self-regulation. Children who have had repeated kindled alarms or a neurobiological diagnosis often struggle to make these connections. That is not to say the connections are not there, it is as a response for a variety of reasons that the child finds these connections stressful and therefore difficult. Self-Reg can change that trajectory, and it works every time, for every person. The time it takes to dismantle the shield and build relationships varies as do all processes that are worth working for.
As educators or parents we must be cautious of how we try to change that trajectory. Do you plan Yoga, deep breathing, mindful moments for children, (or adults), and expect compliance? If you do, you may be trying to force a child into an activity that may cause more stress and anxiety. Instead, try offering Yoga in a corner to the children who want to join in. Some may watch and contemplate, some may try with the group, some may find a quite corner to try on their own and still others may avoid completely, (I know this author would). Offer something different the next day and everyday there after. Some may never find the perfect solution, particularly in a busy, over populated classroom. However, this does not mean the child does not have strategies to regulate, they may in fact have many that you are unaware of. Be a detective and make those discoveries!
Sometimes those strategies are unconventional.
What if we all went to bed happy and inspired? What if we all got adequate sleep to be our very best self? What if we never felt the need to yell in frustration? What if we all understood how everyone felt just by a glance? What if we were never misunderstood?
What if we all practiced Self-Reg?
Shanker Self-Reg is a process of understanding and managing our own stress behaviour.
It’s about Stress, Recovery and Restoration.
It’s all about RELATIONSHIPS, so go ahead and make connections!
Gail Molenaar is an RECE, a Forest and Nature School Practitioner and a TMC Self-Reg Consultant.