How to help your child learn self-regulation  

Self-regulation is the ability to cope with daily ups and downs, big or small, good or bad. This skill is more complex than getting in control of our negative emotions. Self-regulation is about identifying, reducing and dealing with stressors. Your child will become skilled at self-regulation with your support, time and experiences.

How you can reduce your child's stress and help them learn self-regulation:  

Infants depend on their caregivers to meet all their needs. It is important to respond with love and understanding every time your baby needs you. Crying is their way to ask for help and comfort. When you respond to your baby's cries, it teaches them that you are there to meet their needs. When caregivers respond to their baby, it makes them feel secure. Try to learn your baby's different cries; this will guide you to find the best way to respond. 

Every baby is different and some babies cry more or less than other babies. You will get to know your baby's cries. Always, respond to your baby in a warm and sensitive way, and never shake or hurt your baby. You won't spoil your baby by responding to their needs and by comforting them. Feeling safe and secure is a baby's first step to learning self-regulation.

How you can help your child learn self-regulation: 

  • Know the signs of stress in young children. Remember, each child is unique and may react in a different way.
  • Identify the stressors and try to reduce them for your child.
  • Help your child recognize what it feels like to be calm, focused and alert. Use words to name and define each feeling. Assist your toddler to get back to a calm state when needed. 

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Do you have more questions about parenting?

  • Connect with a registered nurse from Health811 for free, secure, and confidential health advice. Service is available 24/7 in English and French, with translation support also offered in other languages. Call 8-1-1 or visit
  • Connect with a Community Navigator from 2-1-1 for information about community programs and resources across Eastern Ontario. Helpline service is available 24/7 and in many different languages. Call 2-1-1 or visit
  • Connect with other parents on the Parenting in Ottawa Facebook page.
  • There are a variety of services to make it easier for your child to grow up healthy in Ottawa.
  • You can update your child's immunization record using either the CANImmunize App or the Immunization Connect Ontario (ICON) Tool
  • If you have received a message from Ottawa Public Health such as a letter or a call regarding immunization, an infectious disease, or infection control lapse, please call 613-580-6744 and listen to the menu options carefully.

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