Self-Regulation Counselling

Self-Regulation Counselling

Self regulation is commonly a term used to discuss impulse control.

Parents reporting concerns about their child’s poor self-regulation has increased dramatically over the past several years. Self-regulation is also known as self-control, self-management or impulse control. It is the ability to do what needs to be done while managing impulses to do something else (not hitting when mad, staying on task when distracted, containing impulses). Research indicates increasing numbers of children struggle with being able to effectively handle their emotions, stay on task and manage social relationships. Working on self-regulation skills can help your child feel more comfortable regulating their sensory needs, emotions and impulses by providing them with a toolkit of cognitive, behavioural and emotional skills.

The 6 Critical Elements to Optimal Self-Regulation are:

  1. Know that you are calm and alert
  2. Recognize what is causing the stress
  3. Recognize stressors within and outside of the classroom
  4. Deal with the stressors
  5. Develop strategies for dealing with those stressors
  6. Recover efficiently and effectively from dealing with stressors

How Can Play Therapy Help with Self-Regulation?

Play Therapy is a great way for children to learn how to better self-regulate their emotions. Play Therapy helps kids learn about different emotions, where the emotions come from and how to handle them. When children are more aware of their feelings and emotions it can make it easier for them to know how to handle them in a more positive way.

Learning about self-regulation and emotions at an early age can carry-on into adulthood. It is a way to encourage better behaviour at home, in the classroom and anywhere else that self-regulation might be an issue. In Play Therapy, children will learn new strategies to handle they emotions, know what triggers them and ways to cope when a stressor happens.

Self-Regulation covers the below five domains:


  • Activity and energy levels are helpful when knowing more about self-regulation. The energy levels of children can vary but typically when you notice impulse issues it is one extreme to the next (extremely lethargic and tired to overly hyper and excitable).


  • feelings, mood and emotion is one which children learn proper self-regulation. This is the act of using proper emotions in different situations.


  • This component of self-regulating is the skill to consciously control our thoughts and actions. This can be: attention shifting, working memory, planning and flexible thinking.


  • A big part of self-regulation is social skills. This would be the act of facilitating interaction and communication with others and acting appropriately in different social situations.


  • this is the act of empathy, prosocial behaviour is the act to benefit another. Therefore it is, engaging in positive behaviours to promote friendship and appropriate social behaviour

Issues in any of these areas can result in children needing to work on their self-regulation. Either, to up regulate (increase their energy level) or down regulate (decrease energy levels).

Up regulate is when children who are feeling tired and even depressed need to up regulate to feel more energetic. Whereas down regulating is for children who are constantly hyper and more excitable, who need to become more calm.

Signs your child might be struggling with Impulse Control:

  • Tantrums
  • Fighting
  • Not following direction
  • Hitting
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Easily upsets

Do you want to learn more about how Play Therapy can help your child with their Self-Regulation? Check out our blog to learn more!