Often we may look at a child demonstrating these behaviors and call it something like “defiance”, “refusal”, “stubborn”, or more. What if instead we viewed these behaviors as communication from their neurological system? Would it change how you interact with them?
Regulation is the ability of the body to be in balance. That means for your body to be able to process and manage the information it receives including the sensory, emotional, and cognitive or “thinking” information.
A child who is covering their ears may be struggling to process the sensory information at that time. A child who is refusing food may have a body that is overwhelmed with adrenaline and cortisol and other stress chemicals. A child who is unable to fall asleep may be struggling to regulate what is going on between their brain and body, and have difficulty relaxing on their own. A child who is aggressive may be spending more time in a fight or flight response than in a comfortable and regulated state. This can make transitions and new interactions very difficult for them to process.
So, the next time you see a child struggling with behaviors, take a closer look and see if it could be dysregulation. Focusing on using co-regulation strategies as well as implementing a daily routine of breathing, movement, and mindfulness can help build the brain connections needed for better regulation. All of this can help your child develop the regulation skills they need as they grow.