Developing your child’s ability to self-regulate requires you to observe her closely and respond appropriately. From birth, you help your child regulate her fluctuating arousal states. We call this simple self-regulation model Dial Up and Dial Down.
• Dial Down: When you rock your fussy child in a quiet room before bed, you are helping her calm down.
• Dial Up: When your child seems drowsy or has low energy before going to daycare, and you talk with her as you play her favorite game, you are helping her energize.
Learn to read your child’s cues by paying close attention to her reactions to stimulation. Observe how quickly she can Dial Up and Dial Down her reactions during regular daily activities. (Be sure to pay attention to your own internal cues and responses, too.)
Your ability to help your child smoothly Dial Up or Dial Down will gradually teach her how to self-soothe during daily transitions and unexpected stressors. She will then develop her own techniques for self-regulating.
With your help, she will gradually be able to Dial Up when it’s time to be alert, eat, or play—and Dial Down when she is feeling frustrated, out of control, or overwhelmed, or when it is time to calm down and go to sleep.
Your child’s ability to create inner balance so that she can recover faster from stress will play a critical role in her emotional well-being and resilience throughout her life.