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Facilitating Emotional Regulation Supplemental Resources

On Thursday evening, January 27, 2017, LifeLine families came together at our northwest Georgia FamilyShare support group and discussed ways to facilitate our children’s emotional regulation at home and at school. Lisa Mattheiss shared ideas and resources that she and Michal Jones had collected in their years of working with families in Chattanooga and northwest Georgia.  You can find the notes for that presentation here.  After a break, the group reconvened.  Families began to share various challenges and solutions, outlining resources, strategies, and websites that had worked for them in various emotionally challenging situations.  They also offered their own observations based on personal circumstances.

Here is a list of many of the ideas and suggestions that were provided by our families:  

  • Know Me Better Letter – A letter devised by one high school mom of a child with developmental disabilities to share details with paraprofessionals and support staff who may not have access to her daughter’s IEP.  This letter included such information as what happy looks like, what overwhelmed looks like, what feeling threatened looks like, what steps should be taken if she is crying, when mom is to be contacted, when mom may need to come and intervene, what interventions school personnel can implement in order to give her time to recover from meltdown scenarios, and how to successfully extract information about something that occurred.
  • We were reminded the role that exhaustion plays in our children’s lives.  Our cultural tendencies to rush and hurry and pack every day to the hilt challenges our kiddos who need time to decompress before they tackle another day.  Symptoms may be exacerbated when children haven’t had time to rest.
  • A possible strategy for ameliorating sensory based auditory responses could be headphones.  One family uses noise reduction earphones such as this.  Others may need noise cancelling earphones like these or similar.
  • Processing family responses to our children and their diagnoses and challenges takes time, preparation, and boundary-setting.  We talk more about this in Caregiving 101 as well as a coming workshop on Responding with Grace.  Check our Event Calendar for the details.
  • Visual timers may be the best thing in the world to help our children process time and may reduce stress for them because they can visually see how much time they have left.  For some children, though, this may increase stress because of additional pressure to perform within time constraints.  Using a standard clock and defining times for various tasks like this may be helpful as well.
  • Using countdowns such as “In 10 minutes we will leave and you will say ‘yes, ma’am’ and climb in the carseat.”  “In 5 minutes we will leave and you will say ‘yes, ma’am’ and climb in the carseat.”  “In 2 minutes we will leave and you will say “yes, ma’am’ and climb in the carseat”.  “Ok, now it is time to leave.  It is time to say ‘yes, ma’am’ and climb in the carseat.”
  • Use dolls and puppets for role playing.  Using favorite characters, animals, etc. may help students process concepts, social skills, and empathy in a way that they struggle to do without them.  Letting them assume the role of one of the characters and play-act responses to challenging social scenarios can help develop skills.
  • Paraprofessional and assistant training are crucial because those roles are rarely if ever trained to the level of classroom teachers and have fewer resources and supports in the classroom.  Paras, teachers, and professionals can request paraprofessional or diagnosis specific training here.   They may also attend training already scheduled by looking here for opportunities.
  • Sensory/Calm down jars can be found on Pinterest and made for pennies from things around your house.  Here is an example of some ways to make them.  There are many other ideas.
  • Turning Point Camp  is a place for hurting families to find hope and healing. Challenging children are hurting children. This deep-seated pain comes from broken bonds, past experiences, traumas or difficulties resulting from other emotional or behavioral disorders. These children often seem unreachable and wreak havoc and pain on their families, but there is hope. Reaching kids with these challenges is difficult, but they can heal and your family can be refreshed and restored.  Turning Point Camp is focused on restoring and strengthening family relationships. Although this program is designed for children ages 4-12, all members of your family are strongly encouraged (but not required) to attend and participate.
  • www.WonderGroveKids.com connects to dual websites www.WonderGroveLearn.com for educators/parents and www.WonderGrovePlay.com specifically targeting students PreK to 2nd grade (but may be appropriate for older children with developmental and/or cognitive disabilities as well).  These games and videos target social skills, classroom behaviors, etc.
  • All About Me Booklet to share information about a young child with teachers, staff, and therapists.
  • Gebser Letter for reporting bullying situations.
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