Self-Regulation: How to help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life

This book by Dr. Stuart Shanker is a thought provoking and informative read. It has benefited me as a parent of two teenagers and in a professional capacity as a Resource Consultant Team Leader supporting children in a variety of inclusive childcare environments.

Dr. Shanker shares his approach to dealing with stress related behaviour. He suggests supports for adults surrounding the best way to teach children how to deal with everyday problems. His method can be used with all children and entails the use of a five step process. This process allows children and adults to learn to self- regulate personal stressors by:

  • Recognizing the ongoing signs of stress
  • Pin pointing negative stress
  • Reducing the stress
  • Reflecting on overstressed behaviour
  • Reclaiming calmness.

This approach helps parents and other supporting adults in reframing a child’s behaviour as stress behaviour verses misbehaviour. This is a crucial distinction. Dr. Shanker reinforces the importance of looking at hidden stressors to better understand and respond to the child by changing our own behaviour and approach. This leads to a more meaningful and effective intervention reducing the stress and teaching coping mechanisms.

What I really liked about this book was that it helped me to look through different lenses to reframe the sources of a child’s stress behaviour. It helped me to be reflective on this process and to understand what’s going on from the child’s point of view. I like that it advocates a team approach between the adult and child to teach regulation, this is essential given that a lot of children do not recognize their sources of stress.

Dr. Shanker provides concrete examples that include helpful strategies and tools to teach children self-regulation and cope with a child’s challenging behaviours. These skills promote optimal learning so that positive growth and abilities can develop. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone seeking to better understand and handle children’s challenging behaviours.

Find it in the CISS Resource Library here.

Tanya Terrade, RECE, DSW
Resource Consultant