Self Regulation: What is it, and How will it Help?
Self-regulation is the ability to monitor and control our own behavior, emotions, or thoughts, altering them in accordance with the demands of the situation. When we develop self-regulation skills, we have the ability to act in our long-term best interest, consistent with our deepest values.
Young people lack the life experience of their parents to see future consequences of behavior in the same way an adult might. As parents, it’s our duty to help our children develop the habits needed to guide them to becoming a successful adult.
Developing Self-Regulation Skills
If your child is overusing screens, Summerland Camps can help by assisting them to develop a long-term plan consistent with their life goals and values. We introduce your child to new sports, hobbies, and a wide variety of interests on a college campus setting. We get them thinking about their future and how they will manage their life after high school.
There is an old Native American tale of two wolves that fight inside us. One wolf represents everything good about us: honesty, integrity, hard work, happiness, caring for others, and fulfilling our life purpose. The other wolf represents our pitfalls as humans: laziness, dishonesty, selfishness, anger, and aggression. The wolf who wins the fight is the wolf we feed. Self-regulation keeps us feeding the good wolf.
Behavior Planning: The Key to Your Child’s Success
At camp, we teach campers how to self-regulate. This involves the use of a Behavior Planning Journal or what we refer to as a “BPJ.” Goals set in the BPJ align with the campers values and life goals. At Summerland, we say, “What gets measured, gets managed.”
What gets measured gets managed.
The BPJ gives the camper instant feedback and positive reinforcement when they meet their daily obligations. A BPJ is similar to a daily planner, where the structure is provided and behaviors are tracked. At the end of camp, your child will be an expert at systematic self-monitoring and will have the self-regulation skills to be successful back home.
Structure Back Home
Parents are trained on the use of the BPJ so they can support and encourage their child’s new commitment to moderating screen behavior. Parents are provided with a Behavioral Contract and given guidance on how to use the contract to support their child’s behavioral changes.
Online remote aftercare is available for an additional cost after camp. Campers check in with staff at camp by phone or Skype weekly and the BPJ is discussed. Continual support and encouragement from Summerland staff help the child transition the skills learned at camp back home.
Parents are also encouraged to check their child’s BPJ after camp on a daily basis. When your child meets their daily goals and consistently self-monitors, give them praise and positive feedback. When a child doesn’t meet their goals back home, it’s okay for them to feel some level of guilt or anxiety. It is through avoiding negative and seeking positive feelings that people truly change.
Living in Moderation
Because it is not reasonable to expect a child to completely avoid screens, we need to set limits on the amount of time we play online, and what media we choose to see. At camp, we learn about the effect of violent media on our behavior. We also set daily limits that are in line with our values and long-term goals.
As a general guideline, at Summerland, we recommend no more than 1-hour of digital media on school nights and 2-hours on the weekends, provided that all other expectations are met (social, academic, and health).
For certain types of digital media, we teach campers to develop an understanding that this is “not for me.” Games where you get points for shooting innocent people, pornography, and other various media, are simply “off limits” for young developing minds. Our approach is not to lecture campers, but instead to provide research data on why they should avoid certain types of games or websites all-together. It’s much more effective to say “Here is why you should avoid this” than simply, “Don’t do this.”