Day by day, I see, hear, taste, touch, and smell many new-to-me things. These sensations are like puzzle pieces. My brain is working hard to arrange them into a “picture” I can understand.
My brain and body respond to all of these experiences in ways that are unique to me.
Pleasant-to-me experiences will probably make me smile, giggle, kick happily, run around excitedly, jump right in, or sit and watch in fascination for long periods of time.
Distressing-to-me experiences may trigger me to react with crying jags, tantrums, or withdrawal responses.
I need you to be my patient, gentle guide through each day as I meet people, take in many sights, adjust to listening technology, acquire language, try activities, taste foods, touch surfaces, and smell scents.
Thank you for comforting me, and for teaching me positive ways to regulate my feelings and behaviors!
How can I support healthy emotional self-regulation in my young DHH child?
Little people–and big ones–show emotional dysregulation in two main ways: hypoarousal and hyperarousal.
The brain is always asking, from the very earliest moments of our lives, “Am I safe?” This fundamental question is a guiding force behind many behaviors. Parents and caregivers of DHH infants and toddlers are wise to pay particular attention to any signs of dysregulation.
A child in hypoarousal will likely slow down and withdraw in visible ways. Hypoarousal may also be called “Flight” or “Freeze.” This may look like slowed breathing, becoming uncharacteristically quiet and slow-moving, avoiding eye contact by closing her eyes or looking away, bringing her limbs in close, physically moving away from others, and taking out her hearing aids or cochlear implants. Her body may seem to “shut down,” even to the point of trembling or appearing confused, emotionally “empty,” or distant.
A hypoaroused child’s brain is signaling only one thing: “I am distressed. I must get away from the source of my distress in any way possible!”
A child in hyperarousal will show a BIG response to a stressful experience. Hyperarousal is often referred to as a “Fight” response. A tantrum is a pretty typical symptom of a hyperaroused little one. He will have faster and perhaps labored breathing, reddened skin, tightening of muscles, flailing, crying, throwing, hitting, kicking, or running. This child may seem irritable, angry, distracted, panicky, or jumpy.
A hyperaroused child’s brain is on full alert, essentially screaming, “I am in danger! I have to protect myself in any way possible!”
A little one who is in emotional dysregulation needs one main gift from you: comfort.
Curious To Learn More?
Check out our additional Relationship Resources for more information on nurturing your child.