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The Five Domains of Self-Reg: Emotion Domain

Shanker Self-Reg® helps us consider self-regulation and stress across five interrelated domains: biological, emotion, cognitive, social and prosocial. In this blog we are going to explore the Emotion Domain.

This domain includes the ability to experience and understand emotions, both positive and negative. Stressors in the Emotion Domain often interact with and multiply stressors in the other four domains of Self-Reg. Some stressors that can impact the this domain, include grief or loss, disappointment, change of routine, fears, and much more.

Let’s explore The Emotion Domain further:

  • Many children, especially young ones, find it very difficult to “monitor, evaluate, and modify” their emotions.
  • Using “left-brain processes” like language and executive functions to regulate a child’s emotions will not be effective if the child’s left brain is “off-line” as a result of all the adrenaline pumping in the hyperaroused state.
  • The more flooded (hyperaroused) the child, the less capacity they have to “monitor, evaluate and modify” their emotions.
  • If a child is in a flooded state, parents and early childhood educators need to help the child calm down, not try to force them to monitor, evaluate and modify what they’re feeling.
  • Young children experience intense emotional reactions that can be sudden and feel catastrophic—all-or-nothing.
  • It can feel overwhelming to the parents and early childhood educators when they can’t seem to help a child calm down or cheer up.
  • Sometimes a child is so overwrought or angry that nothing you say or do seems to help. This happens, not because a child’s “braking mechanism” is defective, and certainly not because they aren’t “trying hard enough,” but because they are so aroused that they can’t register what we’re saying or doing.
  • Parents and early childhood educators need to soothe the child.

Examples of Stressors in the Emotion Domain:

Stressors in the Emotion Domain, an illustration by Kristin Wiens. Graphic includes stressors such as intense surprise, fear of trying something new, anxious about parents fighting, disappointment, comparing self to others, grief or loss, a sick parent, fear of punishment, divorce and feeling lonely.
Stressors in the Emotion Domain, an illustration by Kristin Wiens

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