Helping kids avoid anxiety, teaching children self-regulation at an early age

SEATTLE -- More and more kids are experiencing anxiety in school, and according to research, it is because children are having a hard time rising to the challenge of the growing demands in the classroom.

That is why self-regulation is becoming a hot topic amongst early childhood educators.

Kit Harrington, preschool teacher at Fiddleheads Forest School, describes self-regulation as promoting social and emotional awareness, so children can learn to navigate how they are feeling and what they can do about it.

“When your child is stressed, overwhelmed and out of control, they're not going to be able to be learning anything in that minute,” Harrington said. “The time to teach them a lesson, one that's really going to stick with them and make an impact, is after you and your child have had the opportunity to calm down.”

At Fiddleheads, they give children time to recognize moments that are stressful, unexpected changes or a difficult task and then give the child time to work through the problem.

She says self-regulation is such an important skill to teach children at a young age because it is how they will manage stress for the rest of their life.

“We help them develop and cultivate an awareness of tools and strategies they have at their disposal. That might be breaths or using positive self-talk to work through a frustrating situation, so that they’re prepared to be successful in any situation.”

If your child is older than preschool age or these skills are not being taught in their school, it isn’t too late to teach your children self-regulation, according to Harrington. She says first you need to know your child and their needs.

“What are their strengths, what are their needs, what are their sensitivities? What types of things will be difficult for them and where will they need extra support?” she asked. “From their it’s a process of helping them gain that knowledge and same understanding of themselves and working with them to develop strategies so they can be successful no matter what the situation is.”

For more ways to implement self-regulation in your own home, Harrington recommends these books for children, which teach the following topics:

Promoting Social and Emotional Awareness

    Social Toolbox

      Ground Rules, Expected & Unexpected



            Books for Adults