health

Mental health providers and other professionals often talk about a child or adult's "dysregulation" and "self-regulation," but these terms are often left undefined. A 2017 summary and the 2015 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services help define self-regulation and show the complex social, biological, and environmental factors involved in development of self-regulation.

The summary defines self-regulation as "the act of managing one’s thoughts and feelings to engage in goal-directed actions such as organizing behavior, controlling impulses, and solving problems constructively."

Components of self-regulation
Self-regulation is a term that refers to a number of essential capabilities for successful human functioning.

Being able to self-regulate helps us succeed in many aspects of life, including creating satisfying relationships, tolerating difficulty, prospering in school and work, managing finances, and maintaining physical and mental health. Self-regulation is a critical life skill.

Self-regulation depends not only on the individual child or adult's biology and actions, but also on the contributions of parents, teachers, other mentors, as well as conditions in the neighborhood to global environments. As a community, we all play a role in each child's development of self-regulation. Likewise, we all can play a role in helping each other repair missed developmental steps.

When we see poor self-regulation in ourselves or another individual, it helps to remember that as children we do not have much control over whether we learn self-regulation.

Although learning self-regulation is probably easier as a child, humans have the ability to achieve self-regulation at any age, whether through healthy relationships, psychotherapy, or neurofeedback. A large part of my therapeutic work is helping individuals of all ages learn how to self-regulate.

The 2017 summary, Seven Key Principles of Self-Regulation and Self Regulation in Context, is a clear explanation of the development of self-regulation.

The full 2015 report, Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress: Foundations for Understanding Self-Regulation from an Applied Developmental Perspective, is also available.

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Many people with eating disorders report that a doctor or therapist has refused to treat an eating disorder, based on faulty stereotypes. This occurs because many people—even professionals—believe that weight or visual characteristics can be used to identify an eating disorder. For example, many assume that people with anorexia will be bone-protruding thin, that binge eaters will be obese, and people with bulimia will have an average weight. It isn't that simple!

Anyone can have an eating disorder, no matter what shape or weight they have. ...continue reading

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One difficulty with mental health, and perhaps especially dieting, obesity, and eating disorders, is that much of our conventional wisdom is inaccurate.

For example, nearly everyone knows that diet and exercise are essential for weight loss, right?

What most don't know is ...continue reading

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Yoni Freedhoff's article on parenting children who are overweight argues that child obesity is not a problem of personal choice or too little will power. Young children who are overweight are well-aware that they are overweight. They have already suffered negative consequences, such as bullying, lectures, and shaming.

The primary problem is that we are living in a culture in which a flood of calories comes at kids. For children eat Froot Loops for breakfast and Happy Meals for dinner, over-consumption of calories is the norm. Who decided what these children would eat? Who bought those items?

Freedhoff's suggestion to parents who are concerned about their children's health and weight: "Live the life you want your children to live."

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