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Children's Self-Regulation

Updated on July 22, 2016

Gone are the days of simple childhood upbringings. Today's children are bombarded with entertainment, technology and early stress due to our high-speed life styles. It seems children are having a harder time focusing and have shorter attention spans. Many children spend too much time using electronic tablets which carry negative health effects including exposure to free radicals. It is nearly impossible to stop children from being exposed to smart phones and tablets so it is important to combat these free radicals other ways. Children's eating habits, along with adults, have also taken a plunder in the last few decades as convenience foods have replaced healthy home cooked meals. Changing eating habits is also hard as it requires us to plan a healthy meal, shop and cook. Children also a receive limited amount of exercise and little to no quality outdoor time playing in the fresh air. All of this impacts our children and the next generation. These negative tendencies also cause poor sleep habits and other health issues such as childhood diabetes and food allergies.

With all the stress surrounding children, particularly young students, it is important that children learn to remain calm, alert, focused and in control of their words, actions and feelings while learning and interacting with others. This behaviour is termed as Self-Regulation. Many Kindergarten programs are building their classrooms around Self-Regulation which encourages kids to balance their daily emotions and stimulation.

Define: Self-Regulation

Self-regulation is an integrated learning process, consisting of the development of a set of constructive behaviors that affect one's learning. These processes are planned and adapted to support the pursuit of personal goals in changing learning environments.

Tips On Getting Ready for Kindergarten

Here are some practical ways you can help your child prepare for Kindergarten

  • Practicing your ABC's
  • Counting up to 10
  • Printing your name with capital letters
  • Coloring in the lines
  • Properly holding scissors
  • Learning how to put on and take off your shoes
  • Zippering up your own sweater or coat
  • Taking yourself to the bathroom
  • Washing your own hands


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There are many things you can do as a parent or educator that can help children self-regulate. One of the easiest ways you can help your child self-regulate is by Earthing. There are many healthy benefits associated with Earthing one of which is shifting the nervous system from a stress-dominated mode to one of calmness which is an important part of self-regulation. Earthing is basically connecting with the Earth's negative charged electrons. You can do this by touching your bare skin on the Earth or by using Earthing accessories such as grounding bed sheets, mats or patches. The Earth's energy will neutralize the excessive free radicals that are increasing in our bodies due to our lifestyles. Our bodies and our children's bodies can self-regulate, self heal and rejuvenate with aid of the Earth's healing power.

The most practical way to practice earthing is to walk barefoot outside. Our feet are covered with 1,300 nerve endings per square inch, all ready to absorbs electrons and help us ground ourselves. This is extremely easy for our children to do during the summer. Send them outside barefoot every opportunity you can. This is great for them to exercise, use their imaginations, socialize with other children and of course absorb electrons. There are times in the spring or fall where you cannot go outside or if it is dangerous or hazardous for children to walk barefoot. In these cases you can help your kids stay grounded and self-regulate by wearing earthing footwear for children.

Most of the shoes our kids wear have synthetic materials such as rubber soles, foam padding and insoles. This does not allow any electron transfer to take place. It is important to find footwear made from all-natural materials such as genuine leather or suede. Soft sole children's moccasins are the ideal footwear for kids as they can be worn inside or outside and with or without socks. Leather becomes conductive the more you wear it. As sweat and ground moisture begins to soak in, the water against your bare foot allows the electron transfer to take place. What is also nice about natural kids moccasins is it makes you feel like you are walking bare foot. Children love being bare foot and recognize and practice earthing naturally from a young age.

Maggie Dent talks about the challenge of self-regulation and how to help our children regulate their emotions. She outlines what helps kids with self-regulation

Children love activities you are willing to share with them, so as you practice Earthing, include them in what you doing. Include them in your gardening, go to the beach and build a sand castle, make a tree fort, run in the sprinkler, or go swimming (in a lake, river or ocean). These are all ways you can help your child use the Earth for self-healing and self-regulation. If you live in the North and cannot go outside during the winter, be sure to play in your basement as the concrete, when moist, is conductive. The more extensive and longer periods of time children spend touching the earth, the greater the benefits, which in turn encourages self-regulation.

You may even want to consider Earthing sheets for the winter as this will keep them grounded all night long. Unfortunately many children struggle with restless sleep. Restless sleep hinders children's ability to learn, grow and function normally. If not properly taken care of, this can cause sleep disorders such as insomnia later on in life. Some of the benefits of sleeping grounded are that is increases melatonin which helps regulate sleep. It also resynchronizes cortisol release and brings it back to a more natural rhythm. Kids that use conductive bed sheets get an entire night's worth of Earthing which gives them a calm, restful sleep.

Did you know that ...

  1. Most 4 year old children engage in parallel play. Parallel play involves playing in and around other children but each child is actually playing by themselves. For example, it is considered parallel play when several children are all playing in the sand box but building their own sand castles. It is not until one child shares a toy or interacts with another, that they are playing together.
  2. Children usually take approximately 30-40 minutes to enter into creative play or make believe, which is why it is important to set up daily playtime activities or centre time with this time frame in mind.
  3. The attention span of young children is usually 10 to 15 minutes. So any teaching time needs to be broken up into smaller chunks of time in order to fully engage young learners.
  4. Show-and-tell encourages children to express themselves orally and communicate with others by describing an object or retelling order of events or a story.
  5. Most children need to be taught proper letter formation and pencil grip. Children will print letters and draw shapes starting at the bottom unless taught to begin at the top.

By Jessica Marshall B.A., B.Ed.

6 Ways to Help Your Child Self-Regulate

Parents should soothe anxiety and foster a feeling of safety and acceptance
Be An Example
Regulate your own emotions so you can stay calm and compassionate with your child
Respond Calmly
If your child is frightened by something talking soothingly so they can stay calm and regulate themselves to make rational decisions
Practice Self-Control
Give your child opportunities to voluntarily give up something they want for something they want more
Set Limits
Set limits that your child is willing to accept to develop self-discipline
Learning to Wait
Help your child endure the discomfort of waiting by calmly talking them through it and getting them involved
Read more in-depth article here:

Helping Your Child Cope

Earthing will yield positive behavioral changes in children such as a heightened self awareness. Children who can practice Earthing will feel calmer. They will experience less stress and improved self-regulation. The same benefits from Earthing available to adults are also available for children. Children are exposed to the same free radicals and stimuli as adults and they also need to learn to feel calm, focused and in-control. Offer children as many opportunities as possible to practice Earthing. The result will be natural self-regulation.

Good & Bad Self Regulation Habit for Children & Adults

Focus your attention on your child
Become distracted from your child with television or texting
Respond calmly to situations
Allow stress from your children to cause you to react anxiously
Activities, healthy loving interactions, play time outside
Allowing your child to spend too much time watching TV, using phone or other devices
Full night's rest
Child not sleeping properly
Healthy diet
High sugar foods & snacks


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      J.A. 3 years ago

      Awesome! So helpful.