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Putting Out the Fire Together: Why Co-Regulation Is So Important for Children

After reading this article, you will:

  1. Understand the difference between co-regulation and self-regulation in children's emotional development.

  2. Gain insights into the significance of co-regulation as the foundation for self-regulation.

In this article, we will explore the difference between co-regulation and self-regulation for children and discuss strategies to support co-regulation. While self-regulation is often emphasised as a goal for children, it is important to recognise that co-regulation plays a vital role in their emotional development. We will delve into the concept of co-regulation, its benefits, and how it differs from self-regulation.

Are we setting our children up for failure?

In the realm of occupational therapy, discussions surrounding emotional regulation in children are common. It is intriguing to observe the number of goals centered around promoting "self-regulation" in three-year-olds, four-year-olds, and five-year-olds, where the pursuit of self-regulation may inadvertently set them up for failure. So, what distinguishes co-regulation from self-regulation? Self-regulation refers to an individual's ability to manage their emotions, behaviour, and physiological responses independently. It is a valuable skill for children to develop, but it is not something that can be achieved in isolation. Co-regulation serves as the foundation for self-regulation, providing children with the necessary support and guidance to develop these skills gradually. Co-regulation acknowledges the interconnectedness between the child and the adult, recognising that emotional regulation is a collaborative process. To support co-regulation in children, it is essential to create an environment that fosters safety, trust, and understanding. Co-regulation plays a crucial role in children's emotional development and serves as the foundation for self-regulation. By understanding the difference between co-regulation and self-regulation and employing strategies that promote co-regulation, parents, educators, and caregivers can support children in their journey toward emotional well-being. By valuing co-regulation, we pave the way for children to develop self-regulation skills that will benefit them throughout their lives. Our Online Emotions Workshop includes a walk through of co-regulation and a plan to help you move from co-regulation through to your child self-regulating. This self-paced two-hour includes a detailed walk through of emotional regulation strategies and a plan to help you help your child.


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