Our Self Regulation Success

by Jenna Schade February 08, 2020

Our Self Regulation Success

In our family, self-regulation has not come naturally.  From an early age we noticed that our Chloe needed a lot more help from us to manage her thoughts and feelings… especially at bedtime. 

I remember the first time I noticed how other children her age were starting to control their impulses, manage their attention and organise their behaviour whereas she would struggle. 

Despite giving Chloe the same co-regulation opportunities as her older sister, despite the responsive and warm interactions we had, despite giving her just the right amount of support, despite my coaching and modelling efforts, she just never seemed ready to self sooth or to truly trust the adults in her life. 

Looking back now, it’s easy to see that her brain was wired differently to most… and she wasn’t behaving that way to be annoying or naughty. 

I now know that she was born already feeling emotions and expressing them with a much higher intensity than most around her. 

We noticed that she also responded differently to touch, noise, temperature, light and smells, but didn’t think much of it at the time.

Finally, at four years old we realised her ability to manage transitions and change was very different to most of the children in her kindy class.

We needed professional help, we needed some equipment… and most of all we needed patience!

You see, co-regulation (eg. seeking warm support from a parent) is SO much easier and feels WAY better than self-regulation!  Co-regulation kicks self-regulation’s butt every . day . of . the . week!  When a child is still relying on a lot of co-regulation and basically refuses to self-regulate,  it's not a good idea for anyone! 🤦‍♀️

Luckily we met some amazing therapists and dove straight into sensory equipment and educating ourselves. 

Of course we learnt to provide Chloe with a structured and predictable daily routine and give her plenty of warning before upcoming transitions... but most importantly we learnt to give Chloe little tastes of self-regulation success.

We started adding many little opportunities for self-regulation into her day and learnt we needed to have some ideal little tools easily accessible so she can have some quick wins at calming herself.

One of our favourite tools is her vibration cushion.

Vibration is a very calming sensation because it floods the brain with that lovely calming sensory input they are craving.

Vibration can help with:

  • falling asleep and getting back to sleep
  • hyperactivity and movement seeking as it provides strong proprioception input
  • anxiety, as it helps a racing mind focus on one sensation for a period of time
  • attention and focus for a longer amount of time
  • introducing vibration to a child with sensory processing sensitivities

As I write this, we are just finishing week two of a new school year here in Australia, and of course this is a particularly stressful time for us with Chloe’s spectrum wiring and highly anxious brain… so we have just ramped-up the use of her vibration cushion over the last few weeks:

  • in the classroom for those rough mornings when she needs some time away from the group until she feels ‘just right’
  • in the car for anxious mornings and especially for afternoon school pick-up (when she barely makes it to the car before falling to pieces crying or yelling due to exhaustion and sensory overwhelm)
  • in her little “calm down” box at home (that she decorated herself)

I find that ‘pressure activated’ vibration cushions are the best because they offer a gentle vibration when sat on, hugged or squeezed... encouraging the child to experience cause and affect as they learn to self-regulate and choose when they help their own system to relax ❤

If you're reading this, then chances are your child may have limited self-regulatory skills as well?  Make sure you take a break yourself when needed, as little super heroes like ours are particularly good at testing our patience and it's important that we stay firm yet calm in our actions and voice... even when our child is 'out of control'.

Sending love and strength...

Jenna Schade
Jenna Schade


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