Tuesday, April 12, 2016

10 Reasons Why Children Have Trouble with Self Regulation


Lately, I have been wondering why kids seem to act out more? Child rearing has changed so much over the last few decades. Children's ability to self regulate and control their emotions is greatly influenced by their environment. Here are 10 things that have changed over the years that can affect a child's ability to self regulate. 


1.  Kids ride in the car way too long! Years ago many families only had one car.  Kids walked or rode their bicycle or you just didn't go.  All that riding in the car, kids start to get impatient and tired. 

2. Kids play organized sports too young or too many hours of organized sports a week. Participating in organized sports requires the ability to follow multi step motor commands, waiting your turn and following rules. Many young kids are not ready developmentally to even do that for a 60-90 minute practice.  Older kids can't hold their emotions together after hour upon hour of structured, rigorous practice.  When I was a child, organized sports did not start until 5th grade.  Now it starts as young as 2 years old. 

3.  Families eat out more often which translates into more waiting.  With dual income households or single working parents, after a long day at work making dinner can be difficult.  Gone are the days that dinner is on the table waiting for the kids after playing outside after school. 

4.  Helicopter parenting.  Parents are right on top of their kids.  Do this, don't do this, share, make nice, blah blah blah (guilty as charged sometimes).  Kids sometimes don't even get a chance to make a decision.  We try so hard for them to avoid conflict that when it does occur they are not ready for it.      

5.  Families are in a state of constant rushing. There is no time to dawdle, jump in a puddle, or watch the clouds float by.  Frequently, work comes home with parents.  Thanks to email and cell phones, gone are the days when you left your job and 5:00 and didn't think about it again until 9:00am. Rush, rush, rush to the next scheduled activity. When little ones pass by a dandelion and can't make a wish, stop and search for the perfect rock or walk along the curb they get grumpy. 

6.  Kids zone out on television or technology all day long. Years ago you could only watch children's programming certain times per day. Otherwise, there was complete junk on tv so you turned it off.  You went and found other things to do when you were bored instead of zoning out with a tablet. 

7.  Kids have more homework. This cycle begins at a very young age. Preschoolers have homework. Elementary school and older can have hours of homework. This makes for very little downtime in children's lives. 

8.  Children have less time to learn to be independent.  It is easier for parents to just do it for the kids sometimes rather than slow down and let the children do it themselves. When a toddler wants to put on his own shoes and mom/dad has to run off to work, the toddler melts down when all he/she wants to do it be independent.


9.  Kids don't play outside enough.  When I was a child and we would get rambunctious, our mother would yell "go outside!" and she didn't mean for 5 minutes.  We would head outdoors for hours, burn off steam and be ready to come indoors for dinner with our bodies and emotions in control.

10.  Children have less recess time during the school day.  If you had to sit all day long, listening to a teacher, following rules and never getting a break you will be at risk for a meltdown too!   

Read the next blog post for 10 Suggestions to Help Children Stay In Control.

20 comments:

  1. As a preschool educator of 10 years I agree with each of these points. I have seen first hand over the past decade the changes in society/culture and the effects upon parenting styles and ultimately the children. We must educate ourselves about developmentally appropriate practices for the early years. 0 to 8 years of age is indeed early childhood yet we treat our kindergartners as if they should all be reading and texting on their own twitter accounts by now! NO NO NO say it with me NO to pushing academics onto our children too soon. If we want a kinder calmer more connected world we must model that for our child. We must communicate with eye contact and language with hugs and handshakes. We must be authentic and sincere in our daily interactions with not only our own children but with every person we encounter. Our children are always watching and listening to us even when we swear they are ignoring us on purpose.If you wish to raise a respectful child into a productive & caring adult then YOU must practice self-regulation before you can teach it to our child. Practice Practice Practice and forgive yourself and your child when you both throw tantrums because it will happen. So carry on and read more and share more articles like these to encourage each other and foster a brighter future for our children :) Peace be with you all. www.consciousdiscipline.com

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    1. Thank you very much for your comment and support. I agree with the NO NO NO to pushing academics too young and I will add a YES put down your own phone to interact in the real world together with hugs and eye contact (just like you suggested)!

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    2. I'm in complete agreement with this too! Children need the developmental opportunity to play and the simple freedom to experience the world through being IN it as tangibly and physically as possible. Less structure, less dominance on requiring they read and write and learn as soon as they're out of the womb. Sure, there is science that says the younger they are the more efficiently and faster they learn but that developmental time is VITAL for learning the skills of understanding your human experience, for learning how your body and mind works, for learning how to communicate your needs and desires in socially acceptable ways, and learning who you are and how you impact the world around you. Everything else should wait until there is less mental preoccupation on learning those skills because by demanding so much from them so young they don't have enough bandwidth to master the basics of being in control of their very being.

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    3. Well stated Rebecca - "by demanding so much from them so young they don't have enough bandwidth to master the basics of being in control of their very being". It is so true. We need to help children develop the building blocks to problem solve to learn all the skills you mention before requiring so much academic work. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

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  2. Yes, yes yes!!!!! Great thoughts for us to all think about!

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  3. You didn't mention that all of their toys need batteries and do things so no imagination if needed. They are not engaging their minds and creativity. When we were young we made houses and castles from boxes and tents from sheets. Now kids are given these things so again no imagination needed. Also, our parents spent time with us helping us create, where now most parents have little time for large projects, and kids get lost in what has to get done in the short amount of time that their parents do have.

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    1. So true - especially tablets and phones! It is amazing what kids will create or find to do when they have a little time to be bored and no electronic devices.

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  4. Well, considering my children eat homecooked meals daily. Watch no TV during the week and no more than an hour a day on weekends (save for a movie every other week) They play outside constantly when the weather is good enough (meaning above freezing or maybe 40 F) We heavily restrict activities to what we can handle (no more than 1 a day and it is typically not allowed to interfere with dinner) They have almost no homework. We aren't helicopter parents. We tell them to work it out and intervene only when they cannot or will not. So why do my 5 and six year olds have problems? This might be it for some kids, but simply reducing it to "lack of choice, fresh air, exercise and waiting too much" is an oversimplification.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment. As I stated in the beginning of the post "things that have changed over the years that can affect a child's ability to self regulate." The key words being "can affect". Self regulation skills are complex and develop throughout a child's life through adolescence. In fact, there are days I am still fine tuning my ability to self regulate and I am an adult. The point of my post was just to reflect on how things have changed and how it affects a child's day to day emotional state. I am very impressed with your family's choices and I my guess would be that by making those choices you are helping your children to be the best that they can be.

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  5. Yes, 5 and 6 year olds will have 'problems.' But a parent's job is to teach them how to work through those 'problems,' or take them to a professional to have the 'problem' diagnosed (and not be afraid of the answer). From the day they are born, we are teaching...we teach an infant how to self-soothe and fall asleep on her own, so when they are 6 or 8 months old, a parent can put them into the crib and they go to sleep without a meltdown every night. At one year, we teach them not to touch things that are fragile or dangerous (AKA, the word 'no'), so if they are in a dangerous situation, one stern "NO!" could save them from harm. How do you do this? By getting off your duff every time and engaging/correcting your child. Yelling from the sidelines doesn't work. You must interact with your child to teach (AKA discipline) your kids. Teach them what to say when they are frustrated, tired, angry, sad. A well-timed 'time out' works wonders with small kids. And if a professional tells you your child has physical or developmental delays, please, please don't wait to learn all you can about their diagnosis and get your child the intervention he or she needs.

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    1. Yes to all your points especially the last one. If a child does have an issue, seek help and information. Children can make great gains with early intervention due to neuroplasticity.

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  6. I love the way the writer of the article feels the need to comment of every comment! Not!! There is no need to comment of every comment! Enjoy reading the comments, some may agree some may not!

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    1. Haha! So now I will comment on your comment by saying thanks for the comment. In reality, I truly appreciate the comments. Nice to know people are reading. I comment all the time on blogs and appreciate when the blogger responds. Personal choice.

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  7. Working in early years myself. I agree with the statements. Our children are no longer allowed to be just children, they are expected to be academic from an early age and development is pushed in so many ways and more is expected of the younger child early on. So much is expected from early years to produce the mature child ready for school. Technology gets in the way of learning but is part of the curriculum in early years ( which I don't agree with ). At times I feel we need to get the parents to learn how to play again.

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  8. I think we need to get parents to slow down (myself included). I have found when children are younger they don't always need me to play they need me to just be present. And by present, I mean not looking at my phone, not doing a chore, just being in the room. Obviously, I can not do this for hours (I last about 15 minutes in spurts). It is hard to get in play mode sometimes after a long day.

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    1. So true. Our generation often lack presence

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  9. Sadly this article leaves out way too much. It addresses nothing about trauma. One of my children has a huge hard time with self regulation, and it has nothing to do with anything on this list. Its because of the child's past trauma. If more schools would become trauma informed, and incorporated trauma informed classroom principles--all students would thrive even more Research has already indicated that the ENTIRE school fares better and behavior improves by leaps and bounds. Being punitive and basing classroom discipline on rewards and punishments (ie sticker charts, time outs, etc) doesn't work with trauma kids or kids from hard places or even kids who have just had rough patches in life (ie going through family divorce,etc). Most classroom discipline is based on training kids (through rewards and punishment) to behave, rather than connecting with them so they want to behave.

    Btw, my children's trauma has nothing to do with me or how I parent. My kids are adopted internationally. They were exposed to many horrible things in the first years of life. That does not disappear the moment they have a family.

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    1. Thank you for your comments. I don't disagree at all with any of your statements and suggestions especially regarding how sticker charts, time outs, etc do not work for all children. If you have the chance read anything by Dr Ross Greene - excellent resource!

      This article is not meant to be an overview on self regulation skills by any means. It is just meant to be a reflection about how things have changed and how we as parents have changed over time. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

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