Emotional Self-Regulation

Emotional self-regulation is the regulation and inhibition of emotions and emotional reactions. The initiation and modulation of several emotional facets are necessary in order to self-regulate emotions successfully. The internal experience of emotion must be regulated in addition to being able to inhibit the physiological processes (like increasing heart rate) that are a response to emotions.

Very young children are poor at emotional self-regulation and express many emotions as a result of this. Crying and being scared by loud noises or sudden movements are evidence that young children are unable to regulate their emotions in the same way that older children and adults do. Initially emotional regulation is highly dependent on the primary caregivers but by the age of 6 months children begin to avert their eyes from situations that are over-simulating or unfamiliar. By the age of 2 children will avert their eyes to pleasing or neutral stimuli instead of more disruptive or distressing stimuli. Emotional self-regulation continually develops with older children developing cognitive strategies for dealing with emotions and stressful scenarios.