Did you know that a child’s ability to control their thoughts and behavior is the best predictor of school sucess? It makes perfect sense. Children who can regulate their emotions can behave in ways that help them achieve goals.
Most children learn about self-regulation from their parents or other attachment figures. When a parent’s care is steady and consistent, a child learns that she can control what she does. She is no longer at the mercy of her feelings. She can choose how to behave. Inconsistent parenting or early experiences of violence or trauma interrupt this process. The child is alone in her efforts to gain control. She is overwhelmed by her own feelings. And terrorized by her parents inability to protect her from harm.
These early experiences interfere with children’s capacity for self -regulation in devastating ways. Persistent fear and anxiety leave them overly sensitive to perceptions of threat or danger. They come to school feeling uncared for and out of control.
Consistent, predictable routines help children struggling to acquire self-regulation. So does giving them additional support at transitions and other times of the day that are difficult for them. Knowing they have an adult on their side who wants to help can go a long way in helping children overcome a traumatic past.