How is your engine running??

Happy new year! Let’s start off 2023 talking about our engines – also referred to as emotional-self regulation.

Our bodies are like an engine! Sometimes we can run fast (heightened), sometimes we can run slow (lethargic) and other times we are just right (alert and focused).

We enjoy when our bodies are just right! In this zone we are able to calmly play with our friends, focus on our work and happily engage in activities. Having our bodies in the “alert and focused zone” or the “green zone” is super important for engagement and learning. To be able to achieve getting back to just right when we are fast or when we are slow, we first need to practice knowing how just right feels. Practicing and understanding “what is alert?” is important for both children and adults.

What is our favourite way to teach children about emotions and how they affect the body?

By using the engine analogy to teach self-regulation (changing how alert we feel), we are helping children learn what to do if they are in a non-optimal state of alertness. We can teach children that there are five ways to change how alert we feel: put something in the mouth, move, touch, look, or listen.

We all self-regulate throughout our day, but rarely do any of us talk about it. For example, think about what you did for your engine this morning to get up and get going. To start your day, did you drink a hot cup of coffee or drink a cold fruit smoothie (mouth category)? Before work, did you go for a jog or walk the dog (move category)? To wake up, did you take a steamy hot shower or pet your cat (touch category)? Did you watch TV (look category) or turn on the radio (listen category)?

Credit: The Alert Program