Self-regulation is the ability to manage your emotions and behavior in accordance with the demands of a situation. It can also be referred to as emotional regulation or self-control. This includes how we are able to remain calm, react appropriately to different situations, process our emotions, and adapt our behaviors. Self-regulation is a component of our functioning that starts developing in early childhood and continues through adulthood. 

For children, difficulties with self-regulation may look like:

  • Frequent meltdowns or tantrums
  • Trouble focusing on or transitioning between activities
  • Physical aggression or inappropriate behaviors with others
  • Trouble calming down after something exciting or active play
  • Demanding things immediately

For adults, difficulties with self-regulation may look like:

  • Lashing out at others
  • Trouble calming down after an upsetting situation
  • Hard time communicating their emotions
  • Difficulty maintaining self-control
  • Becoming verbally or physically aggressive easily

Anyone can experience troubles with their self-regulation, but it is especially prevalent in those living with:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); In a study by Silva & Schalock in 2012, they found that self-regulation difficulties were present in 98% of children with ASD.
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); Recent studies showed that children with ADHD had persistently elevated levels of emotional and attentional dysregulation compared to neurotypical children (Williams & Sciberras, 2016).

How Can We Help?

There are a variety of interventions and strategies that can help with one’s self-regulation. These can include:

  • Mindfulness strategies (deep breathing, yoga, etc.)
  • Self-regulation programs (The Zones of Regulation, Alert Program, etc.)
  • Addressing sensory concerns (seeking vs. avoiding behaviors)
  • Promoting emotional intelligence (learning & expressing feelings)
  • Establishing coping skills (calm down plans, writing in a journal, etc.)
  • Utilizing visuals and routines (visual schedules, everyday routines, etc.)

If you feel you or your child are having difficulties with self-regulation, contact us today to set up a consultation with one of our Occupational Therapists.

We look forward to connecting with you,

The SLN Team


Have Coverage for Therapy Services?

Many insurance providers offer coverage for speech and language therapy, and occupational therapy. We encourage you to inquire with your insurance provider to determine if your private insurance plan has coverage for these services. Receipts will be provided to you with the required documentation for reimbursement purposes. The Speech Language Network is an approved service provider for the following: