At birth, and for the first several years of life, young children do not have the ability to comfort themselves. When they are hurting, scared, in need of relief, lonely, stressed, or dysregulated in any way, they have no tools at the ready to become self-regulated. Little people depend on a trusted adult to come alongside them to offer loving touch, calming words and signs, and a way forward into happier moments.
Co-regulation is the name of this “coming alongside” process. This togetherness in hard moments reassures the young child’s brain and body, “You are safe. You are protected. You are understood in your needs.” Co-regulation must happen many times before a child can learn self-regulation.
With your comfort and compassion, your DHH child can become calm. When the she is calm, she can engage with her world with greater confidence, ready to learn and grow. A calm brain is a learning brain!
- Show me compassion in my distress while you comfort me by:
- getting down on my level, in my line of sight, and showing me your compassionate face
- holding me firmly but gently
- removing me from an overwhelming situation
- snuggling me to your chest while breathing deeply so I can feel your soothing calm
- rocking me
- walking around with a gentle, soothing bounce in your step
- looking out the window or popping outside for some fresh air
- distracting my brain with a book or toy that we can enjoy together
- swinging with me on your lap
- cuddling with me and my favorite “lovey”
- reading a favorite picture book with me
- any other activity you can think of that soothes me
- Wait for my calm before moving on to our next adventure. This may take some time, and will definitely require patience.