Emotional Regulation: Skills, Exercises, And Amazing Strategies

What are emotional control regulation and emotional control?

Emotional control and regulation are characterized by understanding your emotions and learning how to regulate them. It doesn’t mean suppressing or avoiding experiencing them; instead, it means learning the strategies and techniques to handle them by controlling the intensity of difficult emotions when they explode. This article will explore how to develop and practice self-regulation and emotional regulation and the strategies.

Examples of practicing self-regulation skills

Your attitude towards life makes you successful or unsuccessful. To succeed in life, you must have a healthy outlook on life. To adopt this positive attitude and behavior, practicing self-regulation skills is helpful to make the best out of the opportunities that life provides you. Self-regulation skills allow you to achieve your goals by controlling your actions and reactions. These skills enable you to process resilience and manage to control the things out of your control.

RELATED: The Power Of Building Resilience: Important Facts!

Table of Contents

Emotional self-regulation and behavioral self-regulation

There are two types of self-regulation:

Behavioral self-regulation

It involves controlling your actions to align with your values and goal setting. For instance, to lose weight, you must get up and work out instead of adopting a sedentary lifestyle to achieve your goal. That’s behavioral self-regulation.

Emotional self-regulation

It refers to controlling emotions and feelings in various situations. Emotional self-regulation is a critical factor in learning emotional intelligence and resilience, impacting better interpersonal relationships.

Self Regulation skills

Self Awareness

Being self-aware is a crucial characteristic of emotionally intelligent people who are also aware of their strengths and flaws. Instead of allowing your intense emotions to steer you, you are in charge of your self-regulation.

When you know yourself, you identify deeply ingrained tendencies that impede your development and adjust to them to maximize your personal and professional lives. Being in control of yourself allows you to establish limits that will prevent disputes and enhance your social Intelligence, strengthening interpersonal relationships.


The capacity to persistently pursue an objective in the face of problems, failures, or impediments is known as persistence. Obtaining desired results entails keeping a goal-oriented perspective and overcoming obstacles. Persistence is the power to maintain effort, drive, and discipline over time, allowing people to resist temptations and urges that impede their progress. It requires developing resiliency, discipline, and a strong work ethic to remain focused and committed to one’s goals.


The capacity to respond appropriately to shifting conditions and situations is known as adaptability. It is the ability to change one’s ideas, behaviors, and coping mechanisms in response to novel demands, obstacles, or objectives. Instead of being set in your ways or resistant to change, it requires having an open mind, being adaptable, and being eager to learn from and adjust to new conditions.


A positive mindset or attitude known as optimism is characterized by the conviction that successful outcomes are achievable, even in the face of difficulties or adversity. Optimism in the context of self-regulation is the capacity to uphold an optimistic view, which can effectively improve one’s ability to control negative emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.

Why is emotional regulation necessary?

Emotional regulation is necessary for mental health, good relationships, excellent work performance, and overall well-being. Emotional regulation is also essential to achieve desired outcomes without falling into regret and escalating the situation around you.

Emotional regulation is a crucial factor in improving your moods. To learn emotional self-regulation, you need to face your undesired, negative, and disruptive emotions to learn how to cope in difficult situations. You need not worry while you face these emotions because everyone around you goes through them.

RELATED: Healthy Coping Skills for Uncomfortable Emotions

How to Develop and Practice Emotional Regulation

Emotional regulation is necessary to avoid conflicts and impulsive reactions in adverse circumstances. You must learn to face your own emotions, feelings, and behaviors for this. To practice self-regulation strategies, you must know the five components of emotional Intelligence.

You develop self-regulation skills from childhood [[1]]

Which helps you develop better social connections and emotional maturity later. In this article, we explore several techniques to practice Emotional regulation.

How To Practise Emotional Regulation

Emotional regulation exercises are beneficial in the personal development journey. Here are some ways that emotional regulation might help people on their journey.

Increasing awareness

Self-awareness is the first step in practicing self-regulation. People recovering from addiction must become aware of triggers, cravings, and emotional dysregulation that could cause relapse. Recognizing these internal and external signs helps people better control their reactions and make deliberate decisions to avoid or deal with them.

Controlling cravings

Self-regulation approaches can assist people in controlling their cravings and urges related to addiction. People can change their focus, endure cravings, and avoid impulsive actions that might result in relapse by using tactics like deep breathing, mindfulness, or healthy diversions.

Emotional control

Overcoming strong emotions is a standard part of emotional regulation. Individuals can detect, comprehend, and manage emotions healthier by developing emotional regulation abilities. This involves coping with emotional turmoil without turning to drugs or alcohol, such as asking for help, participating in therapeutic activities, writing, or practicing relaxation techniques.

Practicing Boundaries

Boundaries must be established and upheld to protect oneself from potential triggers and harmful effects. This could entail avoiding specific persons, locations, or circumstances that could endanger the healing process. People can support their continuous sobriety and self-care by creating and upholding clear boundaries.

Creating coping mechanisms

Self-regulation approaches assist people in creating more effective coping mechanisms to deal with stress, obstacles, or challenging emotions. This may entail developing problem-solving techniques, honing effective communication techniques, getting help from a therapist or support group, or partaking in relaxing activities like exercise, meditation, or hobbies.

Creating routines and structure

Creating routines and structure in daily life helps with self-regulation. Consistent scheduling of activities, meals, sleep, and self-care promotes stability and assists people in avoiding irrational or bad habits. Routines promote accountability and can help create virtuous habits.

Self-reflection and self-monitoring

Regular self-reflection enables people in recovery to gauge their progress, pinpoint areas for growth, and modify their self-regulation techniques. Self-monitoring entails being aware of thoughts, behaviors, and triggers to keep track of progress and potential obstacles.

The Self-Regulatory Model

According to the self-regulation model, some disease causes cognitive and emotional reactions (collectively, “illness perceptions”), influencing coping strategies. The impact of illness perceptions and management is operationalized, like going to the doctor, taking medication, “quality of life,” or self-management abilities. Therefore, efforts to change perceptions and outcomes should focus on substituting sickness views and coping mechanisms with healthy, adaptive ones.

Roy Baumeister, a leading authority on modern SRT, identified four elements in 2007:

image Emotional Regulation
Emotional Regulation: Skills, Exercises, And Amazing Strategies 1
  • Standards of desired behavior
  • Motivation to uphold norms
  • Monitoring of circumstances and ideas that precede breaching standards
  • Willpower enables one to handle temptation.
  • The interaction of these four elements influences our self-regulatory behavior. According to SRT, our actions are determined by our standards of appropriate conduct, our motivation to uphold those values, our awareness of our surroundings and behavior, and the strength of our will to withstand temptations and make the right decision. To comprehend SRT better, it may be helpful to consider the self-regulatory model.self regulation model Emotional Regulation
  • The model’s operation is depicted in the image to the right: Present stimuli (i.e., something occurs that causes a response, whether it be a thought, something uttered by someone else, hearing important news, etc.); The person interprets the stimulus in terms of cognition (knowing it) and emotion (feeling it);
  • As a result of sense-making, the person decides on coping mechanisms (i.e., what the person does to change how she feels about the stimuli or how she deals with the triggers). The individual examines her coping strategies in light of these outcomes and decides whether to keep using the same coping strategies or to change her formula. The sense-making and coping responses affect the outcomes (i.e., the individual’s overall response and how she chooses to behave).

An Example of the Model in Action

Sarah wants to put money aside for a trip. She decided to save $2,000 over the upcoming six months. (Setting goals)

Sarah begins keeping tabs on her spending using a spreadsheet or a budgeting app. She keeps track of her earnings, savings, fixed expenses (rent, utilities), and variable expenses (groceries, entertainment). This enables her to assess her development periodically. (Monitoring)

After a month, Sarah evaluated her spending and saving habits to look for discrepancies. She realizes that she hasn’t been able to save as much as she had hoped and has been spending more than she had planned on eating out. As a result, there is a disconnect between her desired behavior—saving more money—and her actual behavior—spending excessive amounts of money. (Dependencies Detection)

Sarah’s emotional response is disappointment and annoyance that she cannot reach her financial target. She knows the emotional cost of not matching her actions to her objectives. (Emotional Reaction)

Sarah resolves to make some changes to get back on track. She establishes a new budget for eating out, eliminates wasteful spending, and more frequently investigates cost-saving options like cooking at home. She also looks into methods to make more money, including working a part-time job or freelancing. (Adjustments)

Sarah executes her revised plan. She adheres to her new spending plan, looks for ways to save money, and accepts extra employment to increase her income. (Implementation)

Sarah assesses her development once more after a month has passed. This time, she notices that her spending is within her means and has effectively saved a sizeable percentage of her desired sum. Her drive increases, and this favorable assessment strengthens her dedication to the goal. (Self-evaluation)

Sarah keeps track of her savings efforts, makes necessary adjustments, and keeps at it until she has amassed $2,000 in savings. (Persistence)

This illustration is a good illustration of self-regulation in action. It involves monitoring your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, comparing the results to your goals, and determining whether to keep your present attitudes and behaviors or change them to reach your goals more effectively.

Self-Regulation Versus Self-Control

Psychologist Stuart Shanker (2016) put it:

Self-control is about inhibiting strong impulses; self-regulation [is about] reducing the frequency and intensity of strong impulses by managing stress-load and recovery. In fact, self-regulation is what makes self-control possible, or, in many cases, unnecessary.”

Self regulation and self control are similar mostly in concepts and procresses. Self-regulation can be defined as a more spontaneous and subconscious process (until the person choose to consciously monitor or change their self-regulation), whereas self-control is a collection of active and deliberate choices and actions.

5 Examples of Self-Regulatory Behavior

  • A student who decides to prepare for an exam rather than go out with friends is exhibiting self-regulatory behavior by postponing the pleasure of socializing to improve their academic performance. This is an example of Delayed gratification.
  • For instance, when feeling furious or disturbed, taking a deep breath and counting to ten instead of reacting hastily and violently is an example of self-regulatory behavior. That’s Emotional regulation.
  • When students put their phones down and dedicate time to studying their assignments, they are shown the ability to control their attention and focus.
  • Impulse control is needed to maintain a balanced diet, such as refraining from interrupting someone during a discussion or fighting the desire to indulge in unhealthy snacks.
  • By adequately planning their actions and resources, a professional who establishes clear targets, breaks them down into manageable chunks, and continuously work towards reaching them exhibits self-regulatory behavior of goal setting and planning.

Why Emotional Regulation Is Important for Wellbeing

It is simple to understand how poor self-control will lead to issues in daily life. A child who yells at or physically assaults other kids out of anger will not be well-liked by their peers and may experience consequences at school. Between a sensation and an action, self-regulation requires pausing to consider the situation, formulate a strategy, or wait calmly. Both adults and children may struggle with these behaviors.

Self-regulation abilities enable people to effectively manage their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, which is essential for overall well-being. It refers to consciously regulating and guiding behavior following desired objectives, norms, and principles.

Practical Skills for Emotional Regulation

Here are some practical skills to practice self-regulation:

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Self Awareness
  3. Emotional Awareness
  4. Emotional Regulation
  5. Cognitive Reappraisal and Flexibility
  6. Impulse Control
  7. Stress Management
  8. Goal Setting
  9. Self Reflection
  10. Self Care
  11. Seek Support

8 Ways to Improve Emotional Regulation

  1. Being open to change
  2. Identifying your triggers
  3. Reframing negative thoughts
  4. Practice self-discipline
  5. Keep calm under pressure
  6. Considering the consequences
  7. Believing in yourself
  8. Leading with Integrity

Emotional Regulation Tips for Adults

  • Develop your self-awareness.
  • Exercise, meditate, and go for a run.
  • Match your objectives to your principles.
  • Be patient with yourself.
  • Maintain a journal.
  • Practice positive self-talk.
  • Practice self-compassion.
  • Obtain feedback.

Cognitive Reappraisal

This tactic might be characterized as a deliberate attempt to improve your mental health. Cognitive-based therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral or mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy, have this as one of their key objectives.

To develop cognitive reappraisal skills, you must practice altering and reframing your thinking when facing a challenging scenario. Finding a silver lining in your circumstances will help you manage emotional regulation, keep negative emotions at bay, and help locate a silver lining in your scenario (Cundic, 2018).

How to Teach and Develop Self and Emotional Regulation in Toddlers

A child who throws tantrums constantly has no idea how to practice self-regulation or emotional self-regulation. Similarly, kids who can’t control their emotions struggle to make friendships and social interactions later in life. As a result, they adopt aggressive behavior, stress, anxiety, anger, and withdrawal.

Rejected kids from their peers develop anti-social behavior, delinquency, and an increased risk of dropping out of school. On the other hand, kids with a good sense of emotional regulation enjoy successful academics and relationships and good problem-solving capabilities.

RELATED: 8 Important Social Skills For Kids And How To Teach Them – Begin Learning

To teach your kids self-regulation skills, you must provide them with a healthy and appropriate environment. A study conducted in a Romanian orphanage demonstrates the significance of domaining. While some orphans in the study were randomly paired with foster homes that provided top-notch care, others remained in the orphanage. Compared to those who stayed home at age 7, the adopted kids’ emotional control was significantly better[2]

RELATED: Childhood Emotional Neglect: Definition, Signs, Effects, & How to Heal

Here are some techniques to ingrain self-regulation skills in children from a very young age.

  • Provide a daily program and routine that is organized and dependable.
  • When you see a youngster becoming angry, alter the atmosphere by taking away distractions; switch off the television, dim the lights, or offer a comforting item (such as a teddy bear or a picture of the child’s parent(s).
  • Play pretend with the kid to practice how to react or what to say in different circumstances.
  • Regularly review the rules at home and in the classroom, and teach and discuss feelings.
  • Create a quiet area with a modest tent or a stack of pillows for kids to unwind.
  • Encourage preschoolers to engage in imaginary play.
  • Even when a youngster is “out of control,” be composed and firm in your speech and actions.

Emotional Regulation Strategies, Exercises, and Lesson Plans for Students in the Classroom

The following tactics, activities, and lesson plans can support the development of self-regulation in the classroom:

Observing Your Breath:

Instruct pupils in basic breathing techniques like the “4-7-8” technique, in which they breathe in for four counts, hold their breath for seven counts and then exhale for eight.

Encourage children to take deep breaths when switching between activities or before beginning complex tasks.

Psychological Check-In:

Start each day with an emotional check-in when kids express and define their feelings using a rating scale or a feelings chart.

Establish a secure environment for students to talk about their emotions and, if necessary, provide support.

Journals for self-reflection

Give kids notebooks as a daily reflection tool on their feelings, actions, and experiences.

Calming exercises

Bring in relaxing exercises like yoga, stretching, or guided visualization.

Allocate time for these activities to help students unwind and refocus during breaks or before exams.

Set objectives

Teach students how to make reasonable and attainable goals.

Encourage them to divide more challenging objectives into more doable steps.

Frequently check in to assess progress and offer direction.

Skills for Solving Issues

Teach pupils how to identify problems, generate ideas for solutions, weigh the advantages and disadvantages, and choose the best course of action.

Role-playing games or actual situations are good ways to practice these abilities.

McGill Self-Regulation Skills Lesson Plans

McGill University in Canada created the McGill Self-Regulation Lesson Plans as instructional tools to aid students in learning and acquiring self-regulation skills. McGill University’s lesson plans are made to help students learn self-regulation skills and practices. These lesson plans can support kids in their intellectual, social, and emotional development in various educational contexts, including schools.

The McGill Self-Regulation Lesson Plans give teachers organized, research-based tools for developing students’ self-regulation abilities. Teachers can support children in acquiring the skills for self-regulation they need to succeed academically, emotionally, and socially both inside and outside the classroom by including these lesson ideas in the curriculum. You can access their plan here.

Activities and Worksheets for Training Self-Regulation To Kids (PDFs)

This is a great tool to develop self-regulatory skills in your kids:

Self-Regulation in the Classroom

This is a handy tool that teachers can use to develop these skills in students to find improvement in their self-regulation journey. You can download these worksheets here.

Emotion Regulation Skills

These can be used by young kids, teens, and adults. They define some skills to keep emotions under control. You can download this handout here.

Handouts: Emotional Regulation, Social Skills, and Problem-Solving for Adults

This section will provide various handouts and worksheets you can use as a parent or teacher. It includes worksheets and handouts like Tiny’s Emotions Management Steps, which teaches youngsters how to control their emotions, and Wally’s Problem-Solving Steps, which teaches kids how to handle problems. It also provides valuable worksheets that instructors can use to assist students in improving their capacity for self-regulation. Click here to find out.

Self-Regulation and Navigating the Workplace

Self-control and workplace maneuvering are essential for success and personal development in a working setting. Understanding and adjusting to the dynamics, expectations, and obstacles in a work setting is necessary for navigating the workplace.

Self-regulation in the workplace refers to a person’s capacity to manage their actions and feelings, stay focused, and follow defined guidelines without supervision or enforcement from other sources. It fosters individual development and organizational success by encouraging productivity, professionalism, and a happy work atmosphere.

RELATED: Toxic positivity at work: Examples and 10 unique ways to manage it

Self-Regulation Test and Assessment

There are two reliable options for a self-monitoring scale and self-regulation questionnaire if you’re interested in assessing your level of self-regulation (or applying it in research):

The Preschool Self-Regulation Assessment (PSRA) for children and the Self-Regulation Questionnaire (SRQ) for adults were both developed by Smith-Donald, Raver, Hayes, and Richardson (2007).

Click here for a PDF containing details about the scale, references, and the scale itself if you want to learn more about it or use it in your work.

The PRSA will probably serve you best if your primary interest is working with young children on self-regulation techniques. According to its description, it is a portable, direct assessment of young children’s self-regulation based on a variety of organized exercises, including:

Balance Beam, Pencil Tap, Task in the Tower, and Tower Cleanup.

Click here for more information about this evaluation or to ask about utilizing it for your research.

Q.1 What are the 5 essential steps toward self-regulation?

Establish precise objectives.
Create successful strategies.
Follow your development.
Control your feelings and impulsive behavior.
As necessary, adjust and adapt.

Q.2 Examples of self-regulation skills

Effective time management, impulse and emotion control, self-discipline, goal-setting, maintaining focus and attention, managing stress levels, adapting to change, engaging in self-reflection and self-awareness exercises, and making morally sound decisions are a few examples of self-regulation skills.

Common Self-Regulation Problems

Common self-regulation issues include having trouble prioritizing tasks and managing time, having trouble with impulse control and emotional regulation, having trouble with self-discipline and follow-through, being easily distracted or having difficulty focusing, having trouble managing stress and anxiety, and having trouble making decisions and solving problems.

Q.3 Best Therapy for Emotional Regulation

Emotion Regulation Therapy (ERT) offers evidence-based treatment for enhancing emotional regulation skills. ERT integrates principles like cognitive reappraisal, emotion identification, and skills training. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is effective for relapse prevention. These therapies help manage emotions and enhance well-being.

Q.4 Coping Skills for Emotional Regulation

Coping skills for emotional regulation include practicing self-compassion, naming emotions, exploring the Zones of Regulation, using words to express feelings, and developing emotional intelligence. Self-awareness, self-management, empathy, and social skills enhance emotional regulation and well-being.

Q.5 Explaining Emotional Regulation to a Child

Emotional regulation is like having a superhero power for your feelings. Just as superheroes control their abilities, we can control our emotions. It means understanding how and why we feel that way and using tools like deep breathing and talking about our feelings to stay calm and happy.

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