Self-Regulation in Children

“The ability to control emotional and physical impulses should be developed in the early years to help ensure children embrace learning and grow into self-regulating adults.” (Ruth Thomson)


Self-regulation is the ability to control our emotional impulses. This might be to stop doing something we shouldn’t, even if we don’t particularly want to and to then start to do something we are required to do. Being able to consistently regulate their own feelings and behaviour is a great task for a young child, the early years is where this should develop.

As adults we make self-regulating decisions daily. We stop ourselves from doing something we know we shouldn’t. We will think about the consequences of our decisions and what might happen in the future. This is a skill that young children need to learn, experience and develop.

What adults can do to support self-regulation in children:

  • In both early years setting’s and the home environment adults can model good self-regulation, set positive examples, keep calm and manage their own stress.
  • Have realistic expectations of young children, allow for set backs.
  • Be supportive and encouraging towards children, allow them to feel cared for and understood, provide them with a voice to share thoughts and feelings.
  • Giving structure and consistency will help reduce stress in children.
  • Adults could discuss with children to use a scale of 1-10 to measure their emotions, this will enhance their self-awareness.
  • Sometimes just simply giving children the opportunity to calm themselves and to ‘see it through’ will develop their self-regulation skills.

A self-regulating child may not always be compliant. They might be creative and strong willed in their actions. They are curious, everything is new and exciting while they develop and grow.

How the Outdoors can be Beneficial for Children with Special Educational Needs


Did you know that spending time outdoors has been proven to be beneficial in engaging children with Special Education Needs (SEN).

Freedom to move in a therapeutic, stimulating outdoor environment makes for healthier, happier children. Children with Special Educational Needs face an entire range of different and specific challenges. The outdoors not only supports life skills such as, resilience, problem solving and self-confidence, but can have a positive impact in enhancing behaviour’s and social interactions. The research is incredible!


It is vital that all children, including those with additional needs are experiencing the wonderful world of exploration and sensory play outdoors. This will provide them with new exciting experiences to learn and develop in a informal way. The fresh air and open space can release any potential stress or anxiety in young children, in comparison to a busy indoor environment. Simply moving outside to a wide open space will expend their energy and allow children to feel calmer, settle and refocus through creativity and exploration.

“Children cannot bounce off the walls if we take away the walls” 

Erin Kenny.


So Much More than ‘Just’ Playing

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred Rodgers.

Play is a huge part of a child’s life and is the main way in which they will learn and develop. They become engrossed in play as it focuses on their own interests, something they have chosen to do. Children begin to develop skills for life through play, such as language, emotional understanding, creativity and social skills by mirroring behaviours from their peers and adults. Play can support children to be adventurous, take risks and become imaginative. Every play experience is fun and exciting! Play is also where children will learn how to problem solve independently and may work with their peers to do so.

At Little Owls children learn through play every hour of the day, this might be child led or through ‘Planning In The Moment’. We as staff aim to extend each child’s learning by making some small input into their play. For example, this week the children were roleplaying “ice-cream shops” so staff added shaving foam into the resources which allowed the children’s to extend the sensory experience. This led to further discussion about the number of scoops children were giving out and encouraged the children to find different sized bowls to hold their “ice creams”.