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3 ways to manage 'big' emotions: emotional self-regulation

It is normal for young children to tantrum and loose control, but increasingly older children are having trouble with big emotions and self-regulation.

Emotional self-regulation is a tool that can be nurtured in anyone. It refers to the ability to be in control of your emotions in any situation: handling frustration, responding to criticism, loosing a game all require attuned awareness of our emotions. This set of skills is key for children to be able to respond to the world around them in a consistent, calm, and measured way.

Emotional self-regulation is part and parcel of yoga and mindfulness: as a contemplative practice it helps children to turn inwards, befriend their emotions and respond calmly.

Why is self regulation important?

In a world that is large, full and distracting, there are many things that might set us off balance if we feel disregulated.

Consider the life of a child at school: there are numerous situations that could be potentially triggering for large emotions. Leaving a parent at the gates, getting a question wrong, or a friend leaving them out of a game.

Emotional self-regulation doesn't intend to prevent these emotions, but rather encourages children to express emotions in a calm, considered and collected way.

And self-regulation goes far beyond the individual. Being able to own our emotions and reactions, and truly feel how we feel in a moment enables us to have better communication skills, deeper relationships and feel more connected to the world around us.

3 practices to teach emotional regulation

Through yoga, children are encouraged to be mindful with their body, breath and mind in a compassionate and focused way. In doing so, they befriend emotions and find helpful ways to express them, while finding their way to calm.

At The Calm Club, we want to encourage children to be who they are fully. It is important that during these practices children feel supported, encouraged and not judged. Remember these are practices, to be done regularly as part of a routine.

Bear breath

Breathing is an excellent way to calm the nervous system and encourage focus. This can be done any time of day,

- start seated or lying down

- place a teddy or soft toy on their tummy

- encourage them to breathe and note their breath

- watch the bear move as you breathe

- stay for 10 - 15 breaths

Tree pose

Balancing on one leg encourages focus and direction, which is hugely important for emotional self regulation.

- stand tall and tap the top of your head

- wiggle your right toes

- look at something that isn't moving!

- lift your right leg

- put your right foot somewhere on your left & stay for 5 slow breaths

- repeat the other side!

Talking Circle

The ultimate goal of emotional self regulation is for children to be in charge of their own emotions. Sharing how they feel in a safe environment is a great way for children to learn from each other about their experiences.

- set up a small circle

- play some calming music

- ask students to think of a time when they felt a big emotion (anger, fear, sadness)

- pass a talking stick around the circle and invite them to share

- encourage feelings and sensations words

Helping children to be empowered to feel their emotions, express them in a healthy way, and feel at peace is such an important part of what we do at The Calm Club.

To find out how to book onto a workshop, event or class and explore affirmations and intentions with The Calm Club, click here.

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