Your little person is just that: a person! He has unique needs and limits based on personality, preferences, and physiological needs. Many individual characteristics combine to make your DHH little one who she is. When a child’s unique characteristics and limits are honored, self-regulation becomes much easier for that little person.
Some young children (and their nurturers!) need more sleep or more frequent snacks than others. Some can sit still for more than a few minutes, while others have a deep need for near-constant motion. Your little one may love going out-and-about on many errands, or may unravel on aisle 2 of the grocery store. Playtime at the park can be exhilarating…until it’s time for the long walk home and exhaustion kicks in.
Attunement and flexibility are keys to honoring your DHH child’s unique limits…and your own. You can only be human, after all!
- Strive to balance your goals with my needs. I’ll be less likely to have a meltdown (lose my self-regulation) when my needs are anticipated and protected. (Of course, avoiding meltdowns in the toddler years is virtually impossible, so keep this at the forefront of your mind!)
- Remember that we all have to learn how to face new and even challenging situations. Being pushed a bit past my limits is ok–healthy even–at times. This is how I grow! The goal is facing new or challenging situations together, rather than letting me “go it alone” or avoiding them altogether.
- Prepare me for situations you know could be hard for me. Explain to me what to expect using pictures, gestures, and cues in my environment along with your signs or words so that I can make meaning of your explanation. Knowing what to expect can help me to feel more in control of my little world. Feeling in control boosts my self-regulation.
- Encourage me when I face challenges by offering calm, reassuring support, especially in moments when I become frustrated. I will learn from you that I can do hard things well. I will become more resilient with your encouraging, co-regulating presence!
- Honor your own limits, too. This is a marathon, not a sprint! You can’t be and do everything I need, but you are most certainly enough. When you sense yourself in a place of emptiness, it is healthy to make time for rest and renewal. We can take on the world together when you are refreshed!