Supporting the Development of Self-Regulation in Young Children: Tips for Practitioners Working with Families in Home Settings

Publication Date: March 18, 2019
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The home environment, including a child’s relationship with parents and primary caregivers, is the biggest influence on a child’s ability to develop self-regulation skills. Home visiting professionals have a unique opportunity to help both the child and parent or caregiver develop self-regulation skills and to help strengthen their relationship.


Home visitors can use the tips provided within this document to help caregivers support the specific self-regulation skills their child is developing. This is one of four early childhood practitioner tip sheets. For each of four groups of early childhood practitioners (i.e., those working with infants in childcare settings; those working with toddlers in classroom settings; those working with preschool children in classroom settings; and those working in home settings), these tip sheets provide the following: a review of key concepts related to self-regulation; a listing of the skills developing in that age group; six co-regulation tips for caregivers to support the specific self-regulation skills developing at each age; and specific details within each of the six co-regulation tips. Caregivers can use the tips provided within each resource to support the specific self-regulation skills developing at each age. Most of the material is based on the reports and briefs in the Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress Series (/opre/research/project/ toxic-stress-and-self-regulation-reports) prepared for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) by the Duke Center for Family Policy and the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute.


  • Six sets of tips are provided for practitioners working with families in home settings:
    1. Establish a strong relationship with each family.
    2. Help caregivers build their own self-regulation capacity.
    3. Strengthen and support the caregiver-child relationship.
    4. Work with caregivers to cultivate calm and structured home environments that support child development.
    5. Help caregivers learn how to respond with both warmth and structure during stressful moments.
    6. Provide opportunities for families to build social support connections.
  • Home visiting work can be stressful. Remember to start with you.
  • Some families in home visiting programs may be experiencing economic strain and other adversity and may need extra help to manage stress.
  • Home visitors may need to work with mental health services or other support programs to assist parents and caregivers with specific challenges, such as coping with depression or managing a child’s challenging behaviors.


Pahigiannis, K., Rosanbalm, K. and Murray, D. W. (2019). Supporting the Development of Self-Regulation in Young Children: Tips for Practitioners Working with Families in Home Settings. OPRE Brief #2019-30. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


The act of managing thoughts and feelings to enable goal-directed actions.
The supportive process between caring adults and children, youth, or young adults that fosters self-regulation development.
Current as of: