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10 Reasons Why Children Have Trouble with Self Regulation


Lately, I have been wondering why kids seem to act out more? Child rearing has changed so much over the last few decades. Children’s ability to self regulate and control their emotions is greatly influenced by their environment. Here are 10 things that have changed over the years that can affect a child’s ability to self regulate. 


1.  Kids ride in the car way too long! Years ago many families only had one car.  Kids walked or rode their bicycle or you just didn’t go.  All that riding in the car, kids start to get impatient and tired. 

2. Kids play organized sports too young or too many hours of organized sports a week. Participating in organized sports requires the ability to follow multi step motor commands, waiting your turn and following rules. Many young kids are not ready developmentally to even do that for a 60-90 minute practice.  Older kids can’t hold their emotions together after hour upon hour of structured, rigorous practice.  When I was a child, organized sports did not start until 5th grade.  Now it starts as young as 2 years old. 

3.  Families eat out more often which translates into more waiting.  With dual income households or single working parents, after a long day at work making dinner can be difficult.  Gone are the days that dinner is on the table waiting for the kids after playing outside after school. 

4.  Helicopter parenting.  Parents are right on top of their kids.  Do this, don’t do this, share, make nice, blah blah blah (guilty as charged sometimes).  Kids sometimes don’t even get a chance to make a decision.  We try so hard for them to avoid conflict that when it does occur they are not ready for it.      

5.  Families are in a state of constant rushing. There is no time to dawdle, jump in a puddle, or watch the clouds float by.  Frequently, work comes home with parents.  Thanks to email and cell phones, gone are the days when you left your job and 5:00 and didn’t think about it again until 9:00am. Rush, rush, rush to the next scheduled activity. When little ones pass by a dandelion and can’t make a wish, stop and search for the perfect rock or walk along the curb they get grumpy. 

6.  Kids zone out on television or technology all day long. Years ago you could only watch children’s programming certain times per day. Otherwise, there was complete junk on tv so you turned it off.  You went and found other things to do when you were bored instead of zoning out with a tablet. 

7.  Kids have more homework. This cycle begins at a very young age. Preschoolers have homework. Elementary school and older can have hours of homework. This makes for very little downtime in children’s lives. 

8.  Children have less time to learn to be independent.  It is easier for parents to just do it for the kids sometimes rather than slow down and let the children do it themselves. When a toddler wants to put on his own shoes and mom/dad has to run off to work, the toddler melts down when all he/she wants to do it be independent.


9.  Kids don’t play outside enough.  When I was a child and we would get rambunctious, our mother would yell “go outside!” and she didn’t mean for 5 minutes.  We would head outdoors for hours, burn off steam and be ready to come indoors for dinner with our bodies and emotions in control.

10.  Children have less recess time during the school day.  If you had to sit all day long, listening to a teacher, following rules and never getting a break you will be at risk for a meltdown too!   

Read the next blog post for 10 Suggestions to Help Children Stay In Control.

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