Self-Reg for Teens

Self-Reg for parents, photo of man and son sitting on the grass together

What is Self-Reg?

Self-Reg is a way to understand and improve self-regulation by understanding and dealing with stress better. In Self-Reg we look at how we respond to stress and how those responses are related to our tension and energy levels.


  • Self-Reg is based on the original scientific definition of self-regulation, which refers to how we respond to stress.
  • We all self-regulate. But sometimes we do it in ways that aren’t so good—ways that make us feel better at first, but actually lead to even more stress down the road.
  • Good self-regulation helps keep our stress response system in balance, so we can
    be in the best state for learning, growth and getting along with people.
  • Self-regulation is not the same as self- control. Self-control is about inhibiting impulses. Effective self-regulation reduces the stress-induced feelings that cause impulses.
  • When we feel self-regulated it is easier to understand emotions, thoughts and behaviour, in ourselves and others.

Self-Reg looks at stress across five domains (areas) of experience: biological (in the body), emotion, cognitive (thinking), social and prosocial (empathy, knowing right from wrong).


Graphic illustrating the 5 domains of Self-Reg: biological, emotion, social, pro social and cognitive.
Diagram outlining the 5 steps of Shanker's Self-Reg. 1. Reframe the behaviour (see it in a different way). 2. Recognize the stressors across the five domains. 3. Reduce the stress. 4. Reflect and enhance stress awareness (learning to recognize when we are truly calm and when we are becoming overstressed). 5. Restore with personalized ways to replenish lost energy and reduce tension in order to recover from being overstressed and support resilience.

The ultimate Self-Reg goal is to learn to recognize when you are overstressed and then manage your energy and tension to help yourself feel better. Those skills will help you:

  • understand your feelings and behaviour
  • be more patient and understanding, and respond more positively to people’s behaviour, emotional and social problems.

Effective self-regulation can help you have a happier and more successful life!

Become A Stress Detective

Learn how to tell when behaviour or mood problems are caused by too much stress.

Many “misbehaviours” are actually “stress behaviours,” caused by too much stress.

When someone (including yourself) overreacts or behaves in a way that makes no sense, ask why and look for the stressors that may be causing the behaviour.

Illustration of a magnifying glass, and the words "Become a stress Detective".

Self-Reg is Personal.
It begins with you.

Self-Reg is a process of ongoing personal learning about the connections between stress, energy and tension and how they affect our moods and behaviours.

When you’re feeling unbalanced or “not yourself”—mentally, physically or emotionally, always ask yourself how excess stress might be affecting you.

Dr. Stuart Shanker is a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Psychology from York University and the Founder & Visionary of The MEHRIT Centre, Ltd. Stuart has served as an advisor on early child development to government organizations across Canada and the US, and in countries around the world. Dr. Shanker also blogs for Psychology Today