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Self-regulation resources and training to support children’s mental health

Can We Expect Children to Self-Regulate When Parents, Teachers, and Professionals Are So Stressed? Are you afraid your own stress is affecting children?

We need to find ways to remind parents, caregivers and professionals working with children to find ways to regulate their own nervous systems.

According to recent studies in the U.K. The Mental Health Foundation reports that 1 in 6 children aged 5-16 are likely to have a mental health problem. We know children are suffering from stress and anxiety but who are they learning this from? Children’s sponge like brains are soaking up societal and adult stress beautifully. Their wireless-like nervous systems are brilliant at picking up on all the signs and signals that adults around them are inadvertently emitting.

We know self-regulation and co-regulation is key to helping children manage their emotions, behaviours, and attention effectively. We know it is a crucial skill for academic and social interactions. We know children who can self-regulate are better equipped to handle stress, make better decisions, and cope with challenges. But is teaching self-regulation a sticking plaster when adults continue to be in a state of heightened stress and anxiety? When parents are overwhelmed by stress, it can impede their capacity to provide the necessary co-regulation, support and guidance. Stress can negatively affect parenting styles, leading to less emotional availability, reduced emotional consistency, and increased conflict within the family environment. These factors can hinder a child’s ability to develop healthy self-regulation skills.

Parents play a vital role in shaping their children’s ability to self-regulation skills. When teachers and professionals are struggling on the treadmill of their demanding jobs, high levels of stress can impact their ability to provide adequate support and guidance to children and can find it hard to create the necessary nurturing and engaging learning environment. In addition to parents, teachers and professionals also have a significant influence on children’s development. The demanding nature of their jobs and high levels of stress can impact their ability to provide adequate support and guidance to children. Stressed educators may find it challenging to create a nurturing and engaging learning environment, which can hamper a child’s self-regulation development.

25 years ago, when I started Relax Kids, there was no mental health crisis for children. I found it so much easier to teach children relaxation and self-regulation skills. Relax Kids at the time was seen as a pleasant addition to the school day, whereas now these calming techniques are arguably the most important part of the curriculum. But we can’t expect children to survive and thrive on self-regulation and relaxation without seriously addressing our own stress levels. It has to be a collaborative effort and it is crucial for parents, teachers, and professionals to prioritise their own mental wellbeing to be better equipped to support children’s mental health.

Having trained over 10,000 teachers and Relax Kids coaches, I always stress the importance of checking and re-checking our own emotional landscape and stress levels to ensure we don’t unconsciously pass this onto children we work with. It is an important yet constant effort. We would never dream of taking passengers in our car without checking there is enough fuel to get there. If the fuel runs out, everyone comes to a standstill. It’s time to take our own refuelling seriously. Start a meditation app, Go to a sound bath, Find a local meditation or relaxation class, Book a yoga class. If you’re interested in receiving a pack of exercises and 8 weeks of self-care exercises by email, visit www.relaxkids.com/wellbeing – It’s a totally free as a gift to support those working with children.