How can Occupational Therapy help with Emotional Regulation?
Occupational Therapy assists a child to self-regulate and have more control over their emotional regulation. Depending on the context or reasoning behind the child’s emotional state, there are a few common emotional regulation concerns that OT’s treat:
1. Not being able to calm self down after becoming upset
2. Being overly sensitive to criticism and becoming upset easily
3. Becoming easily frustrated and angry without being able to express him/herself
4. Showing violent tendencies to hurt self (eg. biting self) or others (eg. “lashing out”)
5. Displaying a limited sense of humour
Occupational therapy can assist with these common complaints to allow your child to express their emotions when frustrated and to calm themselves down once upset. Occupational therapy is all about detective work. Before we can start with therapy we have to ask ourselves a few questions:
- What sets my child off?
- What makes my child happy?
- What has worked in the past when we’ve tried to calm him/her down?
- How long does it take to calm down?
Asking these types of questions is the first step to solving the mystery! Next it’s time to experiment! Try some of these fun therapy ideas:
- Emotion Thermometer: draw a big thermometer ranging from Happy to Sad/Angry. When your child is upset, get them to visually identify how they are feeling on their thermometer both before and after the event.
- Reduce Pressure: after a tantrum or upset situation, don’t expect your child to be fully recovered in a quick period of time. Allow them some space to recover before getting on with the days activities.
- Stress Relief: have a stress ball or ball of Play-Dough on hand to give to your child to squeeze when they’re angry or upset.