None of us are born with the inherent ability to regulate our emotions. We all tend to get overwhelmed by them at different points in our lives. This ability of emotional regulation gets better as we mature throughout childhood and old age. The ultimate goal is to have decent enough control of our emotions and actions to help us act in the best of our interests in the long run.
However, while dealing with the excruciating demands of our everyday life combined with unexpected triggers, even the most resilient of us fail to regulate our emotions.
Therefore, developing the skill of emotional regulation is tough, especially for children with autism. While constantly navigating through a life that throws them on edge every moment, children with autism have a hard time understanding emotions and developing the ability to regulate them. The sheer exhaustion, anxiety, and stress of the condition can significantly impact the life of the child and their caregivers.
However, there is a lot caregivers can do to improve emotional regulation in children with autism. In this post, we will dive deeper into proven and effective ways to improve emotional regulation in children with autism. Let’s get started.
Proven Ways To Improve Emotional Regulation In Children With Autism
1. Name It To Tame It.
One of the best ways to improve emotional regulation in children with autism is to help them name their emotions. Emotions are pretty abstract in nature. So the first thing you can do is help your child understand and identify their emotional states through physical cues.
For instance, even though they might not understand what anger looks like, they understand what a frown is. So, this simple body-language cue is the perfect place to start.
Additionally, you can use emotion cards, social stories, and emotions boards to help your child.
2. Remind them that emotions are temporary.
While going through an emotional meltdown, it is extremely difficult to help your child calm down. Therefore, one of the effective ways to improve emotional regulation in children with autism is to help them understand that every emotion is temporary.
For instance, if they are crying, let them know that crying is caused by a sad feeling that will eventually pass like a dark night. Let them know that everyone feels a range of emotions and nothing is wrong with them.
3. Help them learn how to rate the intensity of their emotions.
After they have learnt how to name and identify their emotions, the next important way to improve emotional regulation in children with autism is to help rate the intensity of their emotions. You can use an imaginary emotional scale to help them rate the intensity of their emotions.
4. Help them develop coping mechanisms.
Children with autism go through frequent emotional distress and meltdowns. While you can comfort them most of the time, sometimes they need to comfort themselves. This is why helping them develop effective coping mechanisms for emotional meltdowns can be a great way to improve emotional regulation in children with autism.
For example, you can help them channel their emotions through journaling, art therapy, etc. or give them some time to sit with themselves to calm down. Every child is unique, so don’t worry if the generic coping mechanisms do not work for your child. You can devise your own special ways to deal with your situation.
Developing emotional regulation in children with autism is tough. Due to their communication deficits, they regularly struggle with managing big and small emotions, which can eventually lead to a meltdown. We hope these strategies will help caregivers of children with autism help their children with their feelings.
Early diagnosis and treatment are keys to dealing with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Learn more about the early signs of ASD here.
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