The term “self-soothing” refers to a person’s ability to regulate their emotional state by themselves in a healthy manner. There are many self-soothing behaviors that children evolve over time. However, not all these behaviors come naturally or lead to emotional stability later in life. To help give your little one a boost of emotional education, here are a few different ways to teach your toddler to self-soothe.
Model the Behavior You Want To See Repeated
Self-soothing techniques and coping skills don’t appear out of thin air. It’s something that children need to first observe, and that learning starts early in life. As babies, children rely on their parents to soothe them, known as co-regulation. Often, this includes redirection of activity and physical touch.
However, this learning process goes beyond the co-regulation stage and extends well into their teenage years. Modeling positive self-soothing techniques and practicing them with your child benefits and helps to teach them coping skills from a young age. This includes breathing techniques, learning to accept emotions, and engaging in positive self-talk.
Look for Emotional Cues
Over time, you’ll start to learn what causes your child to become frustrated, angry, or irritated. It’s difficult for young children to recognize when their emotions are revving up. This is the perfect time to help your child identify those feelings and what may have caused them. Then, you can either comfort them or help implement a regulation technique. The more they practice, the more they will be able to recognize when their emotions are beginning to take over and practice self-soothing on their own.
Self-soothing requires a lot of practice–after all, even adults don’t have it down perfectly. It will take time for your child to learn, so practicing patience with them will help them to continue to learn these skills. Remember, your little one will have some big emotions and even bigger outbursts, but that doesn’t mean they’re doing it to purposefully. This might give you the opportunity to practice self-soothing techniques together.
Teaching your child to self-soothe starts at the co-regulation stage, and co-regulation for your little one involves a lot of sensory play. That’s why, here at Ryan and Rose co., we sell teethers and other supplies to help your child engage in the sensory play they need and start learning how to self-regulate.