Dr. Stuart Shanker’s “Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life,” ($28, Penguin Press), which comes out in June, finds answers to when kids feel out of control inside the brain. Shanker starts with infancy and helping parents learn what causes them stress, such as over-stimulation, and what helps them calm. Learning that early on can help parents teach their children how to be more in tune with what is going on in their brains. Instead of immediately blaming kids for their poor behavior, basic questions should be asked about what is going on with them biologically: Are they hungry? Are they overtired? Are they overstimulated? Have they had too much sugar?
His book is about teaching kids to tune into their emotions and the way their brains work so they can self-soothe and have self-control, which is a big predictor in a child’s future success. One of the most reassuring aspects of this book is Shanker’s acknowledgement that what works for one child to be able to self-regulate, might be the opposite of what another child needs, because they are all wired a little bit differently.
Perhaps the best chapter in this book is the final one. There, Shanker gives parents a list of 10 ways to see the signs and develop the habit of self-regulating as well as this important feature: A Parent’s Self-Reg Guide to Self-care, Sanity and Survival. After all, our children are only able to self-regulate themselves if we also have our own lives in check.