Self-regulation is one of the keys to success for children as they navigate their world. Defined as ‘the ability to attain, maintain, or change how alert one feels appropriately for the task or situation (Williams & Shellenberger, 1995), proper attention level is required for optimal learning.
Occupational Therapists developed and instruct children in the skills to become aware of their alertness level, as well as the methods to raise or lower energy.
Adults can assist by supporting, attending, and promoting positive behaviors for children to achieve the ‘just right’ level of attention. Strategies and activities can be used in the clinic and encouraged in the school and home settings to attain an optimal state of alertness.
Parents and teachers have found that less management of negative behavior is needed when they provide a child with periods of movement followed by periods of concentration. Teaching a child to be aware of their attention level, plus providing him/her with the tools for self-management, promote a sense of control and confidence.