Creating a Sensory Diet: Arousal and Self-Regulation

Arousal refers to the ability to maintain an ideal level of sustained alertness needed to complete various tasks and activities.

In general, we are most productive in a calm-alert state with moments of low- and high-arousal in between.

Every day, our bodies constantly seek out ways to maintain the optimal state of arousal necessary to complete tasks and activities. Sure, there might be moments of lethargy or hyperactivity, but that’s typical. As adults, we have the ability to seek out whatever we need to help us self-regulate (Hello, coffee!).

However, children don’t have the freedom or knowledge to get them to where they should be. So when they are jumping off the walls, are cranky or tired, or just in a complete meltdown, it’s because they have exhausted the mental energy needed to handle stimuli and expected tasks (i.e. focusing on an assignment, completing chores, or engaging politely with others). They’ve simply run out of gas.

So, how can we help our kids self-regulate throughout the day, especially when they are stuck at home?

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