How we help children self-regulate their emotions without feeling shame or inadequacy when behavior issues arise is tricky. It can be a fine line between encouraging different behaviors without the child feeling as though parents, teachers and caregivers are trying to change them. We all know how well trying to change others usually works.It’s important to stay in a growth mindset both for yourself and the child. Starting by regulating our own behavior is key to working with anyone who needs compassion to help regulate his or her own.

Helping children handle emotions begins by not assuming they possess the ability that allows them to regulate their bodies and thoughts to control their behaviors. Many behaviorally challenged children have not yet mastered this ability; therefore our expectations don’t always align with their capabilities. It’s our job to create an environment that fosters growth rather than one that increases anxiety about the child’s behavior.

THIS article by Mona Delahooke, PH.D. and author of Beyond Behaviors: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children’s Behavioral Challenges, discusses how and why parent’s expectations differ from the child’s capacity to self-regulate. Her insight into the developmental process of self-regulation is a must-read for all parents. Gaining a better understanding of “top-down” control and building a child’s brain from the “bottom-up” strengthens the ability of parents, teachers and caregivers to guide children through a happier and healthier childhood.

“When we are present with children, and compassionately aware of our own emotions, we preserve the most precious factor in a child’s process of developing self-regulation: human connection.”