Self-regulation in the early childhood years; a short guide


Self-regulation is the ability to manage and regulate your emotions and behaviour, including managing stress, controlling impulses and keeping yourself motivated. The main skills include:

  • impulse control
  • stress management
  • self-discipline
  • self-motivation
  • goal-setting
  • organisational skills.

In their early years, children are just beginning to learn about emotions and feelings, and how to manage them. From time to time, most young children display behaviours such as aggression, emotional outbursts and inattention. Gradually, children learn what situations are likely to upset them and how they can handle emotions better when these situations arise.

Children vary in the way they perceive, respond and interact with the world around them.
Some take longer and need more help than others to recover from being upset. They can differ in how they respond to new situations, where some dive straight in while others tend to withdraw and observe from a distance. They can also differ in how long they can concentrate for.

Hormones also play a part in the way children self-regulate. Children’s ‘feel good’ hormones (serotonin) are higher when they experience life in their own way and in their own time.  High levels of stress hormones (cortisol) lessen the child’s ability to concentrate, manage conflict, problem-solve and try new things. Children who’ve experienced higher levels of stress in their preschool and primary years show more aggression and anxiety and aren’t as socially competent as those who’ve experienced less stress.

The Wishing Well foundation

The Wishing Well was established in 2010 to offer children in out-of-home care, such as foster care and residential care, a range of healing and treatment options usually not accessible as a free therapy in mainstream health.

The Wishing Well raises funds to enable children and young people to access developmentally-appropriate and trauma-informed treatments shown to be highly effective in dealing with severe trauma and neglect. These therapies respond to the unique needs of each child and young person.

The Wishing Well is a not-for-profit incorporated charity organisation, established and managed by people seeking to improve outcomes for children and young people in out-of-home care and their families. The Wishing Well recognises the importance of the act of giving. We recognise the significance of the participation of community members and all donations are most appreciated.

The Wishing Well operates ethically, effectively and empathically with a view to achieving quality outcomes and a satisfying working environment.

Support the Wishing Well

The Wishing Well uses its funds to help children in need access all manners of developmentally-appropriate and trauma-informed treatments. The Wishing Well takes referrals for any child/young person in out-of-home care in NSW.  Applications are assessed by qualified personnel and on a case-by-case basis.  The decision to fund an application is affected by the following:

  • Funding availability
  • The support the child/young person has to access the proposed therapies
  • The capacity and willingness of the Carer Household to support the child/young person
  • Assessment, which recommends and supports the proposed therapy as relevant to meeting the particular needs of the child/young person

The Wishing Well gratefully receives donations, funding and resources through bequests, corporate partnerships, fundraising events, grants, online donations and other fund raising activities. Money donated to The Wishing Well enables traumatised children access to healing therapies. Please see our website for more information:



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: