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Tantrum vs. Dysregulation

Of the many distinctions that Self-Reg draws, one of the most important is between tantrum and dysregulation. A tantrum is seen as, sometimes as involuntary: i.e. not something that the child can inhibit. And sometimes as voluntary: i.e., something that the child could stop if they should so choose. But it is almost always seen as intentional: i.e., done for a purpose.

Defining Dysregulation

Dysregulation is neither voluntary nor intentional. It is caused, not done for a reason. And non-voluntary: something that happens to one, virtually against one’s will. It is caused by excessive stress, which in turns causes homeostatic imbalances in one or more Primitive Emotion Circuits. RAGE is triggered, in many cases because SEEKING has been blocked.

Returning to Calm

Whether it is a tantrum or dysregulation, we need to help the child return to calm. Not by acceding to whatever it is the child was SEEKING, but by turning off the stress-response. We do so by triggering the release of oxytocin: perhaps by soothing voice and touch, or simply a calming presence.

One of the most interesting aspects of the tantrum/dysregulation distinction is that it does not simply apply to young children.

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Dysregulation can rear its head at any time. Defining dysregulation early and return to calm before explosive stress behaviours by learning and applying Self-Reg. Here’s a few great places to start:

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