Among the most common questions I get from parents whose kids come to see me in therapy is, How can I help my child calm down? For a long time, I could only offer the same well-worn solutions—cognitive behavior workbooks, exercises to help identify different emotions, and talk therapy—most of which aren’t particularly effective for young children.
Much of the time, I found these methods simply didn’t stick. The kids I worked with weren’t interested in doing exercises from a book, had difficulty understanding them, or couldn’t recall them at difficult moments. As a therapist and clinical researcher, with nearly 15 years of experience working with emotionally dysregulated children in numerous healthcare settings, I’ve long looked outside the therapy field for fresh approaches. After all, there are plenty of innovative strategies to teach kids other skills, like reading, math, and music. Why not adapt these strategies for self-regulation?
One strategy—bioresponsive technology—caught my attention a few years ago while I was doing research at Boston Children’s Hospital, so I joined a team testing a particular bioresponsive software program to learn more. The way I work with kids hasn’t been the same since.
Not unlike biofeedback, bioresponsive tech monitors key body processes, taken by a heart rate monitor, to show users a connection between their body and mind. But what enables it to capture kids’ attention is the way it teaches the process of…