What does well developed self-regulation look like?

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Most parents will be pretty familiar with what it doesn’t look like!

When a child is skilled at self-regulation they’re better able to:

  • Ignore critical or hurtful comments
  • Focus attention on work rather than on inner feelings such as self-doubt or anxiety
  • Use self-talk to encourage themselves when anxious or discouraged
  • Ask for help when needed
  • Express feelings in socially acceptable ways
  • Work collaboratively with peers
  • Cope with ‘transitions’ – e.g. manage themselves during changes of activities such as going back into class after lunch time
  • Wait patiently



It is important to remember that kids are kids and should not be expected to ‘be good’ all the time. Self regulation becomes a problem when a child has persistent ‘melt-downs’ or is so emotionally fragile that their lack of resilience seems to get in the way of them enjoying their life and learning.


How can I help my child develop emotional self-regulation?

Stein, J. Emotional Self Regulation: A critical component of executive function. Chapter in Meltzer, L. (2010) Promoting Executive Function in the Classroom. The Guildford Press, New York.