There are also some children who need a little extra help in regulating their emotions. Emotional outbursts can happen for a variety of reasons outside of typical child behavior including anxiety, emotional disorders, or mental disorders. Children may need some extra help in learning how to self-regulate especially as they grow older and are away from parents consistently.
Mightier- A Self-Regulating Tool for Kids
Mightier is a tool that helps children learn how to regulate their emotions through a bioresponsive learning loop. The Mighty band, which is worn on their wrist, tracks their heart rate so they can visibly see when their emotions might need to get in check. When your child is starting to feel their emotions getting out of hand, they can open up one of their favorite Mightier games to help them calm down. If their emotions continue to rise (i.e., their heart rate goes up), the game will get harder showing them that when they react negatively the environment around them reacts negatively, too.
If your child gets frustrated with the game, Dr. Dragon steps in to remind your child to take a step back and take a deep breath. This teaches them that in order to be successful, both in the game and in real life, that they need to regulate their emotions.
In addition to the program and the games that come with your Mightier band and the accompanying app, each family is matched with a Master’s degree level clinician. The number of sessions depends on which program you choose, but during these sessions the clinicians will help parents set up expectations for success. They will also help develop strategies that work for both the parent and the child to reinforce the skills learned in the game and apply them to everyday life.
All Mightier families also have access to a private online community to connect with other parents. They also receive updates on their child’s progress, weekly tips on how to apply the skills learned in the Mightier games to real life situations, as well as relevant information, webinars, and articles on behavior.
Our family had a chance to try out a new tool that helps children learn how to regulate emotions, all while playing their favorite games.
Being a parent of a very aware, sensitive and smart girl who also happens to be a perfectionist, meant that we often struggled with frustration, anger and very heightened emotions that often were expressed in unacceptable ways such as stomping, screaming, or tearing things up. Nothing seemed to help. She knew all the tools at her disposal to help her regulate her emotions, but it seemed like in the moment none of the tools mattered. We knew we needed to create a habit, a brain pathway connecting her negative emotions with calming tools.
Lexi took to the idea of Mightier really well, as she always does with new things. She was excited to learn and help herself manage her emotions. The fact that “learning emotional regulation” involved actual game playing was a total plus!
One thing I was personally surprised at is that the games included are some of the popular games that kids (and let’s be honest) adults like to play. Of course, Lexi’s favorite game was Kitty in the Box. She didn’t even try playing any other games the first few weeks as she was sufficiently entertained with this game.
Whenever her heart rate would rise, she would compliantly take breaths with Dr. Dragon until the Lavalings would run away and her rate was in the blue again. Every time this would happen she would get rewarded with one of the collectibles within the game. There were a few times where within a matter of 20-30 minutes she was able to collect 20-30 collectibles, which meant that she had calmed herself down that many times.
While I realize that the her heart rate rising during the game isn’t the same as emotional outbursts and upset feelings in real life, I feel it is giving her the framework she needs to utilize the calming techniques as a habit when she actually needs them.
Over the last few weeks, I have watched her use more of her tools than just breathing, including meditating, since it’s “just a game”. And while it slowly translates into real life and is usually used in extreme cases, I have noticed the frequency of times she has turned to breathing whenever she has gotten upset. I know it’s a longer road than just a few weeks to teaching your child self-regulation and there will be many bumps along the way, but it’s wonderful to see it working during game play or, moreover, slowly but surely working in the midst of real life situations.
After 10 weeks of use, the average family sees a 62% reduction in outbursts, a 40% reduction in oppositional behaviors, and a 19% reduction in parental stress. It is a great tool if typical modeling and behavior responses aren’t working for your child.