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By Melissa Pinnell

When I started learning about Self-Reg the idea of planting seeds of knowledge aligned well with my journey.  I was starting the journey on my own. I was able to look at my own regulation but also spread a LOT of seeds along the way. I was able to plant seeds by sharing visuals, running a book club. I connected to our instructional practice, modeling it for others professionally and personally.  During my first year, I noticed the seeds that had managed to take root and grow, but also many that hadn’t.  There was always celebration when I could start to see seeds growing through behaviours or conversations shifting. It also came with lots of reflecting on why “THIS” seed, why now, and why not at other times.  

Around that time, I first saw a visual of the five Haven look fors. I realized that so often those elements were a driving force for when information I shared grew and when it did not.  Safe, Rooted, Capable, Balance, and Trusted; these were five elements that could either feed growth or act as a barrier.  I realized that for me, shifting to a Haven journey was my best way forward. Self-Reg became not WHAT I was sharing but HOW.  

Self-Reg Havens
The Five Look Fors of a Self-Reg Haven

Embracing a Haven journey, I went from spreading seeds to sprinkling glitter.  Anyone who has been near glitter knows that it has a powerful attraction. It seems to multiply and touch anything it has contact with.  Using a Haven approach, I was seeing differently. I believe in the potential and gifts in everyone. I lend calm and hope to those around me.  I was walking the talk and inviting others to share in my journey, even if they couldn’t see their own.  Over and over, I would hear from adults that they connected to Self-Reg and not only understood it but they felt it.  The glitter was rubbing off – not just on them. It was also then transferring to calmer children they worked with and stronger connections with friends and family. 

Creating a Haven, whether it was a specific space or a relationship, started with practical choices.  Working with adults, we were considering our own regulation and needs. With time, this extended to others, deeper understanding, questioning, and thinking about the science and social impacts.  Growth in learning, relationships, and connections seemed to happen as a result of everyday interactions. Self-Reg talk like “stressors” or “reframing” began to be used in conversations naturally. Questions of “why do you think we are seeing that” became a norm.     

Glitter is known to reflect light; the more we spread, the more it can reflect back to us.  As we create conditions that make others feel Safe, Balanced, Capable, Trusted, and Rooted, relationships and connections form. These multiply our energy and effort.  

In working with children, parents, and adults, I have seen how a Haven creates the conditions where growth and learning happen for all.  It creates the space, mental or physical, where there is a cascade of calm shared from one person to the next. It is where possibilities are realized because we see differently and learn to slow down to hear and see more.