Learning by Modeling Self-Regulation to Your Child

Ida Rose Florez, an assistant professor of early childhood education at Arizona State University, says it is important to model self-regulation with children from a very young age. For children and adults, seeking positive conflict resolution starts by making an effort to become actively engaged in the moment.

Florez identifies that “children learn to regulate thoughts, feelings, behavior and emotion by watching and responding to adults’ self-regulation.” Another study cited by Florez, mentions that researchers have found that children’s intentional self-regulation predicts school success. You can read the article, “Developing Young Children’s Self-Regulation through Everyday Experiences” here.

In this sense, my daughter is learning how to engage with others by watching my response to everything. I am modeling healthy – or unhealthy – relations whether I intend to or not. And much of how I behave can have a big impact in how she learns and becomes independent.

This realization weighs heavily on how I see myself as a parent, partner and friend – Maintaining healthy family relations seems like a full time job too. It can be rewarding, as I hope that my daughter is able to intentionally lead a happy, caring and loving life. So as tasking as it can be, I try.

I modeled counting to 10 to my daughter, at a slow pace, during a recent dinner-time challenge. She was upset because we didn’t have bananas. She didn’t like the counting idea at first but by the time I reached the number six, she was counting along. It, in fact, helped her by focusing on breathing in and out. She is 2-1/2 years old.

A couple of weeks after the no-banana and counting event, we were faced with a sleep-time challenge. We followed our night time routine, waved goodnight to her toys, and then she refused to put on her pajamas.

I was tired after a long work day and wanted some alone-time. So I asked her two more times and the answer was still no. As I was becoming frustrated, I threw myself to the bed and covered my head with the pillow.

My daughter’s response was to stare at me and say, “No mama, one (pause), two (pause), three…”

I thanked her and said, “That’s a good idea, let’s count.” Then we breathed in and out before she put on her pajamas and drifted to sleep.




One Comment Add yours

  1. Mrs Mother Dirt says:

    Our children are little sponges! My daughter is 25 months old so I can certainly relate. I happen to have a bad habit of muttering negative or sarcastic comments under my breath – a habit I am very aware of and hoping to break!


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