Self-Reg Definitions

Self-Reg Definitions 2016-10-31T22:09:26+00:00


Arousal regulation — Best understood as the competing forces of the Sympathetic Nervous System’s (SNS) activation, fight-or-flight responses, and the Parasympathetic Nervous System’s (PNS) inhibition, feed-and-breed responses. In effect, how much activation or recovery is necessary for any particular task is going to vary from child to child and situation to situation. It is important that parents learn to recognize these states of arousal so that they can adjust through up-regulating or down-regulating their behavior to maintain optimal regulation.


Bodyreading — The skill of observing another to ascertain the other’s current level of arousal, typically including observations of posture, quality of body movements, speed of interaction with others, voice quality, attention, facial expression and use of eye contact and description of eyes.



Down-regulate — A process whereby a child is able to decrease their level and expenditure of energy, when given access to environmental, sensory and/or co- regulatory supports from another child or an available adult.

Dysregulation — When a child’s stress levels are too high various systems for thinking and metabolic recovery are compromised. The signs of dysregulation show up in the child’s behaviour, or mood, or attention, and physical well-being.


Embodied — Being aware of one’s arousal state in one’s body, presently and/or from a previous time. An example is a hyperalert state resulting in one experiencing a trembling mouth, furrowed eyebrows, while wringing one’s hands involuntarily.


Floortime — Both a specific technique, in which for twenty or more minutes at a time a caregiver gets “down on the floor” to interact with the child, and a general philosophy that characterizes all daily interactions with the child.



“Hierarchy” of stress mechanisms — Porges (2001) has identified a “hierarchy” of four neural mechanisms for dealing with stress:
1. Social Engagement
2. Fight-or-flight (sympathetic arousal)
3. Freeze (parasympathetic arousal)
4. Dissociation

Hypoarousal — A state of having not sufficient energy for the current situation and/or task. It typically involves a very relaxed and/or slumped posture, slow and wandering movements, delayed responses to others, a sad and weak voice, daydreaming stares far away, flat affect and little or no eye contact.






Mindfulness — the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment.

Mindreading — Refers to how we know what others are thinking or feeling, based on our ability to pick up the non-verbal communication of different feeling states and possible thoughts. Examples would include a silent and still body response to an idea with a flat affect might indicate displeasure without words, and a look to one’s watch might indicate that someone needs to leave shortly.






Regulated — (Optimally) a state of being aware of one’s arousal state and having that state be the most appropriate for the situation at hand.


Self-Regulating — A self-regulating child or youth become aware of her/his brain-body responses to stressors in every day life and applies personalized strategies to return to a state of calm, alert focus.

Self-regulation — The ability to manage stress and refers to the neural processes that control the energy expended to deal with a stressor and then recover. When an individual’s stress levels are too high various systems for thinking and metabolic recovery are compromised. The signs of dysregulation show up in the behaviour, or mood, or attention, and physical well-being.

Self-Reg — Self-Reg is a five-step method developed by Dr. Shanker to enhance self-regulation in children, youth, young adults, and adults:

Self-Reg Framework — There are five domains in Dr. Shanker’s Self-Reg Framework: biological, emotional, cognitive, social and prosocial. The Framework provides some organizational structure with considerable flexibility and adaptability for application.


Toxic stress — a term used to describe the kinds of prolonged and frequent experiences, particularly in childhood, that can affect brain architecture and brain chemistry for example, physical and emotional abuse, chronic neglect, caregiver substance abuse or mental illness, exposure to violence, and/or family economic hardships without adequate adult support.


Up-regulate — When children deliberately increase their level and expenditure of energy in order to be alert and energized enough to be able to engage in an activity, to feel excitement and pleasure (such as before playing a sport when a team together hollers a cheer), and/or to get rid of energy (such as when children first arrive at recess and immediately begin running around and chasing each other).