I first discovered the concept of self-regulation after enduring a rough parenting month full of tantrums and unrestrained emotions with my children.
Simply defined, self-regulation is the ability for an individual to regulate their own thinking, behaviours, and feelings. It can feel like a lofty goal when children are young and impulsive. But this skill can and should be taught, according to Dr. Kimberly Maich, Associate Professor of Education at Memorial University.
“Children pick up these skills from the environment, such as watching others, but we typically also need to teach them directly and practice them regularly with children in everyday situations,” explained Dr. Maich.
One way to help foster self-regulation in your children is by reading books about self-control and fostering a grounded attitude. Here’s a list of books that help preschoolers and early learners foster their own self-regulation.
How to Be a Superhero Called Self-Control! Super Powers to Help Younger Children to Regulate Their Emotions and Senses
Written by Lauren Brukner and Illustrated by Apsley
This book is about Self-Control, a superhero that teaches young children about his superhero of controlling himself. It’s written for children between the ages of four and seven, and teaches practical tools to help deal with anxiety, frustration, anger, and other emotions that are difficult to manage. Tools include self-massage, deep pressure, breathing exercises, and more. There are also helpful charts that can be photocopied at the back of the book. Available here.
Percy Gets Upset
By Stuart J. Murphy
Percy gets upset, sometimes, and shows his frustration by stomping his feet and growling. But Percy learns to calm down by taking a deep breath, counting to ten, and talking about his feelings. This is a perfect book to help illustrate some simple ways that younger children can calm down and move from their frustrated emotions to calm. Available here.
What Does It Mean to Be Present?
Written by Rana DiOrio and Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
This book helps children ground themselves in reality and notice people and situations around them. By being present you may notice someone needs help and take the time to help them, or enjoy the tastes and smells of your calm and peaceful surroundings. This book is sure to relax and calm an upset child, and teach them to pay attention to the little things. Available here.
Listening to My Body
Written by Gabi Garcia and Illustrated by Ying Hui Tan
This colourful and engaging picture book helps children to engage and connect with their senses and feelings to better understand their own needs. It also empowers children to listen to their bodies and self-regulate. Available here.
I Can Handle It
by Laurie Wright
A simple book that teaches children a clear mantra, “I Can Handle It”, when approaching a variety of different situations. This book aims to help children feel empowered and engage in powerful and positive self-talk. Available here.
Written by Bryan Smith and Illustrated by Lisa Griffin
A positive book that teaches children about a “get-it-done” attitude. Amelia is a second-grader that loves trying new things and approaches life with a fresh enthusiasm, but at the first sign of trouble she huffs and gives up. After some sound advice from her dad, she learns about the “get-it-done” attitude and learns that failing doesn’t make you a failure. Available here.
Breathe Like a Bear: 30 Mindful Moments for Kids to Feel Calm and Focused Anytime, Anywhere
Written by Kira Willey and Illustrated by Anni Betts
A colourful and beautifully illustrated collection of thirty mindfulness exercises for young children. These exercises are designed to help children learn techniques to help manage their bodies, minds, and emotions. These practices are designed to be done at any time and anywhere and are based on Kira Willey’s award-winning CD, Mindful Moments for Kids. Available here.