Ten Ways To Foster Emotional Regulation in Children with Autism In Toronto

Knowing how to modulate your own emotions is a big part of growing up. As we mature, we get better at tampering our anger, regulating our excitement, and controlling our jealousy.

It’s all a part of the learning progression for children as they mature with age. It’s not uncommon for neurodivergent children to face unique challenges in expressing—and understanding—their feelings. Therefore, teaching emotional regulation is a key aspect of supporting children with autism in Toronto

Here are ten pointers to help guide parents, caregivers, and educators in fostering emotional regulation in neurodivergent children.

1. Coping Strategies Are Lifelong Tools
How many of us count to ten before saying something we regret when we are angry? Not enough! It’s a common sense technique that adults are aware of (but do not implement quite enough) and something every child should know. The sooner we can put habits like this into practice, the better. At Monarch House we help children manage overwhelming emotions by introducing coping strategies (and putting them into practice). When it comes to an unwanted feeling, we help children learn to identify the emotion, and introduce ways to control it, such as deep breathing, counting, or taking breaks.

2. Work on Social Skills Training
When a child is overwhelmed with emotion, it’s important that they know that there’s a socially acceptable way to express themselves. Knowing how to handle themselves around adults and their peers will foster healthier relationships overall. At Monarch House, we incorporate this type of social skills training to enhance communication and interaction abilities.

3. Actively Promote Self-Expression

It’s not healthy to bottle things up. It’s essential to allow a child to express themselves and their emotions. There are many positive and productive outlets for this. At Monarch House, we encourage drawing, writing, and other creative projects for children to convey how they feel in a socially acceptable manner.

4. Model Emotional Regulation

You’re going to imprint on your child whether you want to or not. So try to demonstrate healthy emotional regulation through your own behaviour. When there are new stressors in your life, you’re going to define what is an acceptable reaction. So be mindful. Children learn from example. Showcasing positive coping mechanisms is essential.

5. Every Child Deserves A Safe Space
Children need room to breathe just like the rest of us. They just don’t have the power to carve out their own little sanctuaries in the day like adults can. Establish designated safe spaces where children can retreat when feeling overwhelmed, offering a calming environment equipped with sensory tools.

6. Respect Individual Differences
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to children with autism
. Every child is unique. You’ll need to customize your emotional regulation strategies to their individual needs, depending on their strengths, personal challenge areas, and sensory preferences.

7. Establish Predictable Routines
Knowing what is going to happen, and when, is a major source of comfort for many neurodivergent children. Strive to create consistent daily routines and do your best to provide a structured environment. Consistency and structure helps children anticipate and manage the unexpected—and the ensuing emotional responses—more effectively.

8. Collaborate with Professionals

Monarch House can help you with emotional regulation strategies. We work closely with therapists, special education professionals, counsellors, teachers, occupational therapists, and other experts to develop personalized strategies that align with the child’s developmental needs.

9. Always Reinforce Positive Behaviour

Did you notice your son holding his tongue in a fit of rage? Excellent. Give that child a hug. Little rewards for good responses go a long way. By acknowledging, encouraging, and reinforcing positive emotional regulation behaviours, you can foster good habits. Emphasize the importance of managing emotions and praise whatever effort they put towards it—as well as the progress they make.

10. Make Use Of Visual Supports

Some kids learn best visually. So be sure to implement visual aids such as charts, pictographs, or schedules to assist in conveying emotional concepts. This can help to easily demonstrate and promote the understanding of various feelings.

Teaching emotional regulation to neurodivergent children
requires collaboration, patience, and an individualized approach. By making use these strategies, caregivers and educators can empower children with autism in Toronto to regulate their emotions more effectively. This helps to create the basis for enhanced well-being and more positive social interactions.