What is Co-Regulation and Why is it So Important?

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Self-regulation is such a buzz word lately, but what about CO-regulation? Arguably, it's the first step to actually teaching self-regulation. If you haven't been co-regulating with your students and you're finding that they struggle to employ self-regulation strategies, this might be the missing piece!

So what's self regulation?

Self-regulation is the "conscious control of  thoughts, feelings, and behaviors" (McClellan and Tominey, 2014). I mean, that's a LOT to ask of kids, especially those who have experienced childhood trauma which has disrupted their brain pathways, and/or have diagnosed disabilities. As an adult who did not experience childhood trauma and is neurotypical, I struggle with self-regulation. It's important to remember that it's a skill we're constantly developing, and that it's tricky.

So when we hope children will begin to self-regulate, we often want them to independently ask for a break where they'll start using appropriate coping skills like deep breathing, stretches, coloring, or journaling. We teach them when they're at their baseline, they can exhibit the skills when they're calm, but when things get real, they often can't reach for the skills they've been practicing, and they continue to escalate. What now?!

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