Our say: Helping kids with emotional regulation

Starting kindergarten can be a big change for little children.

What isn’t often known is that the ability to regulate emotions is the foundation for learning, paying attention in class, and being able to make friends.

Royal Far West is a charity that has been supporting country children for close to 100 years and helping children with emotional regulation is something they do often.

Royal Far West’s Occupational Therapist Ben Rogers shares his thoughts.

“The capacity to regulate emotion is something that can be taught,” he says.

“We like to give parents and teachers a toolkit that they can use to help children both in the moment as well as to maintain a calm environment around the child so that they can learn to regulate themselves.

“Often, kindergarten aged children haven’t quite mastered this skill yet, and like reading, we can help them learn how. What we do know is that children who aren’t taught how to regulate are more likely to struggle in the school environment.”

Mr Rogers’ top tips for assessing whether your child needs some extra help are:

  • Your child has difficulty managing their own emotional responses and has increased
  • tantrums, emotional reactivity and is easily frustrated.
  • Their tantrums last for extended periods of time.
  • They are easily distracted, show poor attention and concentration.
  • Appears lethargic/disinterested and can be in their ‘own world’.
  • Your child prefers to play on their own or has difficulty when initiating and sustaining play
  • with other children.
  • They have difficulty accepting changes in routine or transitioning between tasks.
  • Appear less ‘mature’ than others of the same age.

The good news is that Occupational Therapy can help teach your child skills around managing their emotions throughout the day, allowing them to enjoy school, make friends more easily, and focus in the classroom. On Thursday, November 23, Royal Far West, Fairfax Media, and Charles Sturt University are hosting a town hall discussion about developmental vulnerability, and how we can work collaboratively to better support children and their families in Gunnedah.

To register for the event, visit www.royalfarwest.org.au/town-hall