Self-regulation: the act of managing thoughts and feelings to enable goal-directed actions.
The development of self-regulation begins at birth and continues into young adulthood and beyond. The home environment including a child’s relationship with their parents and primary caregivers, is the biggest influence on a child’s ability to develop self-regulation skills.Home visiting professionals have a unique opportunity to help both parent and child develop self-regulation skills and strengthen their relationship as well.
Some families may be experiencing financial strain and other adversity, needing help with coping skills. Practitioners may need to work with mental health services or other support service programs to help with specific challenges, such as child behaviors and coping with depression.
Co-regulation: the warm, responsive interactions and support, structur, coaching and modeling provided by caregivers to foster self-regulation development in children.
The steps for practitioners to take in supporting co-regulation, to empower both parent and child include:
Know your family. Establish a strong relationship with each family. Engaging with caregivers and earning their trust will help you have a positive influence on the family and work with them in ways that builds upon their unique strengths.
Help caregivers build their own self-regulation capacity. Caregivers may need to strengthen their own self-regulation skills to better support the children.
Strengthen and support the caregiver-child relationship. Secure relationships with parents and caregivers are the bedrock of self-regulation development in children.
Work with caregivers to cultivate calm and structured home environments that support child development. Positive routines and a warm home climate can help prevent and buffer stressful experiences.
Help caregivers learn how to respond with both warmth and structure during stressful moments. Being warm and responsive when a child is upset and unable to regulate their own emotions is a central feature of co-regulation by caregivers. Caregivers can also help children learn important self-regulation skills that will help them during times of stress.
Provide opportunities for families to build social support connections. The caregivers and children benefit from social support networks and positive relationships with peers in their community.
Home visiting can be stressful. Therefore, do not forget that everything starts with you. Tend to your own physical and emotional health to enhance your well-being and minimize the effects of stress. Spend quality time with friends and family. Talk about the demands of your work and talk about the joys of your work.
Next post explains each step/tip in greater detail. Stay tuned. Meanwhile stay well and get to know your families. Prepare to make your engagement with families, whether in the home, clinical or community-based settings, most beneficial for their wellness and the safety and support of their children.