Improving Emotional Self-Regulation in ASD Children

Is your child crying uncontrollably upon something outside your control? Have you seen him/her burst in tears over small inconveniences? Has she/he ever been aggressive to you without a reason?

Probably for most parents, this is a scenario that has been seen occasionally, but for parents on the spectrum, this can happen regularly. 

The reason, emotional self-regulation.

What Is Emotional Self-Regulation?

Emotional self-regulation is the ability to adapt behavior when engaged in situations that might provoke emotions such as stress, anxiety, annoyance, and frustration.

A child who lacks emotional self-regulation might:

  • Overreact to situations when compared to same-age peers.
  • Experience negative emotions for a longer amount of time than same-age peers.
  • Have a short temper and engage in emotional outbursts.
  • Have mood swings.

For most children under the spectrum, this might be a challenge, due to behavioral symptoms and emotional challenges. However, it is possible to teach your child some tools to overcome these challenges and today we will share them with you!

Emotional Self-Regulation Tools

Emotional Chart: Using the scenarios in the emotional chart will help your child naming his/her emotional while learning to identify situations that might cause them. The scenarios in the emotional levels chart will help to identify what should be treated as a big deal and what should be brushed off. 

For example, talk to your child about how not being able to wear your favorite shirt should make you a little upset, rather than very upset, etc.

Coping Strategies:  The following visuals of coping strategies can be an additional help to teach your child what to do to calm down when he/she feels the need.

-Take a Deep Breath: Teach your children that is important to take a moment to breathe and to feel better before acting up.

-Counting to 10: Teach him/her that counting is a great way to focus on something else until she/he feels better. If your kid has trouble with numbers, you can ask them to count his/her fingers.

Ask For Help: Explain to your child that these tools are meant for him/her to feel better, but that he/she is always welcome to come and talk to an adult and talk about his/her emotions.

Additional Tips 

Reward Good Behavior: A good way to teach your children which conducts are appropriate and which are not,  is to reward the positive ones. For example, if your child effectively practices one of the self-regulation tools, celebrate,  and give him/her positive reinforcement. 

The reward doesn’t necessarily involve a gift, it can be a sticker, a hug, a happy dance, or even a happy mark on a conduct chart. The point is to celebrate each accomplishment and ignore the conduct when the behavioral goal is not met.

Practice: Practicing different scenarios (that normally make him/her upset) and how is he/she supposed to react with the help of the tools is another great way to prepare your child for future situations without being taken by surprise. This is where the coping strategies images come handy to utilize a visual for acts representation.

Involve The Family: Involving all your children is another good way to reinforce positive conduct. If your child has siblings or cousins he/she will try to imitate them and this will support the teaching.

Be Patient: Keep in mind that building emotional intelligence and self-regulation takes time. Remember that this can be a challenging subject to learn and that everyone (even us as adults) need patience and tolerance when it comes to emotional management, and it’s okay!

At WSCC, we offer support for autistic families and their children with Stem Cell Therapy treatments that can transform autistic conditions by healing the gut, decreasing inflammation and improving brain function. We also created an autistic community on Facebook that is destined to offer support and companionship for ASD parents and their families on their journey.

 Remember, you are not alone!