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  • Sally Dancy

Co- regulation, what & why

Self-regulation like all development is a process that needs nurturing. In those early years a child needs to CO-regulate because that is how the young brain figures things out. It does not happen like a switch at a certain age;neither does it happen by command. BUT Social learning (actually most learning under age 7) is done through cooperative experimentation and can be guided... that is children look to parents, other caregivers, siblings, and social groups for patterns and mirrors and processes that work and that are accepted. And that’s the part of the article that I think is spot on. But it leaves out something important.

In the article is a story of a parent offering a child a reward if he ‘behaves’ and of course it doesn’t work- but what the article didn’t address, what is leaves out, is that we’ve all seen the described parenting technique work for some kids... so why?? Why do some parenting techniques work for some and not others?... because what’s missing in the story is that the child doesn’t have the ’tool’ to handle the situation... if you don’t have the tool you can’t do the job! The ‘tool’ for self-regulation is a way to control our emotional response and our nervous system response. And the article is right that we aren’t born with this ability and that the brain has to develop the connections & controls. But even after the brain develops the connections doesn’t mean we are going to like the results... the ‘tool’ they come up with. So we have to show kids the ‘tool’ we want them to use to handle what’s going on internally. We all have seen tools that kids come up with on their own... biting/hitting, hiding, screaming, etc. Sometimes they even figure out tools that we DO like by accident or happenstance. And of course some ‘tools’ (skills) do come naturally to some people. So yes some children will respond to commands but what is happening is that they have already learned a way to handle their mental & physical response OR that they just have a natural response we like. True self-regulation comes from understanding what’s happening and doing something purposeful to control it. And that is something that can happen at 5 or 25 or in my case 50😉

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