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How to help autistic children learn emotion regulation (Part 2)

In our previous blog, we talked to you about emotional regulation for autistic children and how identifying and labelling emotions and creating a calming environment can help your child express and manage their emotions positively and acceptably.
Here we continue on the same subject with two more techniques: teaching coping skills and practising social skills.

How to help autistic children learn emotion regulation

Teach coping skills

Teaching coping skills is an essential component of helping autistic children regulate their emotions. Coping skills are strategies that individuals use to manage difficult emotions, situations, or stressors. Here are some effective coping skills that can be helpful for autistic children:

  1. Deep breathing: Deep breathing can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. Teach your child to take deep breaths, inhaling through their nose and exhaling through their mouth.
  2. Progressive muscle relaxation: Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups to reduce tension and promote relaxation. 
  3. Sensory activities: Activities like playing with kinetic sand, using a weighted blanket, or listening to calming music can be helpful for regulating emotions.
  4. Physical activity: Encourage your child to engage in physical activities like running, jumping, or dancing to help release emotions and reduce stress.
  5. Mindfulness meditation: Mindfulness meditation involves paying attention to the present moment without judgement. Invite your child to focus on their breath and notice their thoughts and feelings without reacting to them.
  6. Taking breaks: Sometimes, the best way to cope with overwhelming emotions is to take a break. Ask your child whether they feel they need a break. Reminding them can help them recognise when they need one. Encourage them to take a few minutes to engage in a calming activity like reading, drawing, or taking a walk.
  7. Use positive reinforcement: Positive reinforcement can be an effective way to promote positive behaviours and emotional regulation. Praising children for their efforts, acknowledging their progress, and providing rewards can help motivate them to develop better emotional regulation skills.

Practice social skills

Autistic children may struggle with social skills, which can lead to difficulty regulating emotions. Social skills involve the ability to communicate and interact with others positively and appropriately. Here are some ways to help autistic children practise social skills:

  1. Playdates: Arranging playdates with peers can help children practise social skills in a comfortable and safe environment. You can plan activities that encourage turn-taking and sharing.
  2. Role-playing: Role-playing can also be a valuable tool for practising social skills. You can act out different social scenarios and encourage your child to respond appropriately.
  3. Social stories: Social stories are short narratives that describe social situations and appropriate behaviours. These stories can be customised to meet your child’s specific needs and can help them learn appropriate social behaviours.
  4. Modelling: Modelling positive social behaviours can also help children learn appropriate social skills. You can model positive behaviours like greeting others, sharing, and taking turns.
  5. Seek professional support: If your child’s emotion regulation difficulties are severe and significantly impact their daily functioning, seeking professional support may be necessary. A therapist can work with your child to develop individualised strategies to manage emotions and improve overall functioning.

In conclusion, emotion regulation is a crucial skill for autistic children to develop, and parents and caregivers can play an important role in helping them develop these skills. 


By identifying and labelling emotions, creating a calming environment, teaching coping skills, using positive reinforcement, practising social skills, and seeking professional support when necessary, autistic children can learn to manage their emotions and function more successfully in their daily lives.

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