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This graphic, by educator Kristin Wiens, is a great metaphor for co-regulation, which is a core Self-Reg strategy.

In Self-Reg, co-regulation means what happens when a caregiver regulates a child’s (or other person’s) behaviour and feelings through interactive, bi-directional signals: adjusting their tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, and gestures and soothing word.

Children can only learn to self-regulate when they have the repeated experience of being co-regulated by caring adults. This does not mean trying to control children’s feelings or telling them to calm down. It means co-regulation: helping them feel calm and safe.  Co-regulation is especially important with children, but, in fact, we co-regulate with others throughout our lives.

Stuart Shanker on Defining Co-Regulation

Co-Regulation: A shared state of calmness between individuals within which, as a result of our understanding of Self-Reg, we reframe the other’s behaviour, identify and reduce their stresses, and help them shift from maladaptive to restorative modes of self-regulation

Learn more:

You can learn more about Co-Regulation in our Self-Reg Foundations Program.

Podcast: Just How Important are Relationships Anyway?

More Reading: Self-Reg For Parents

See more fun graphics from Kristin Wiens here.

The graphic demonstrates co-regulation. There first two graphics are of two separate boats in rough seas, the second is of the two boats together in calm seas.

The graphic is also available in:


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