We all know that accepting kids unconditionally, modeling empathy and respect, and saying “I’m sorry” when things go wrong can be quite difficult at times. These values can be challenging to remember when your children act out and things start to get heated. However, what separates good parents from great parents is something basic and fundamental. If you want to know what 99 out of 100 parents forget to do each day, then keep reading because it can literally change life in your living room. Simply put, most parents forget to…
Emotionally self-regulate, and do it well.
Let’s face it. Kids can be selfish, insensitive, and even spiteful. They can refuse to pay attention; be quick to shout or push; or be disobedient and downright hostile. The list is endless. I know because I have two of my own children. If you are like me, you have encountered moments when you get frustrated, aggravated and even angry. It all starts when your children are not doing what you asked, even though you’ve been patient, kind and reasonable. Then your buttons get pushed and your fight or flight response says, “DO SOMETHING NOW!”
When that happens it’s tempting to focus on your child’s unwanted behavior and how to reduce or eliminate it. Keep in mind that doing so will set you up for failure virtually every time.
The key is to change your response before trying to manage your child’s. Doing so involves getting (and keeping) yourself cool, calm, and collected. Developmental psychologists use the term emotional self-regulation to describe how people deal with the stress they encounter. As you emotionally self-regulate, you identify and understand the cause of an impulse, and then do something to lower the intensity in some way (e.g., pause, breathe or give yourself a time out before you say or do something you regret). Doing so is a powerful way to accomplish your goal to stay connected even when kids act out. It positions you to be patient and empathic, something your children need and deserve each day. I know firsthand that it can be difficult to emotionally self-regulate, but it’s a very powerful skill to master if you want to be an effective parent.
So how do I learn how to emotionally self-regulate?
Learning how to emotionally self-regulate is about slowing down and asking questions like, “What’s this really about? What’s am I missing? What’s going on inside of me? What am I feeling? What’s starting to drive my behavior?” That’s a big shift from conventional parenting that focuses on eliminating unwanted behavior. Asking these powerful questions is hard work and nobody enjoys that part, but it will transform your parenting style!
So do something different today and make parenting your children an easier journey. Get your eyes off of any unwanted behavior. Instead, calm yourself first. As you learn how to emotionally self-regulate, self-control and great parenting will naturally follow. Trust me when I say this because my day job is marriage and family therapy. When I train parents to stop focusing on misbehavior and start regulating their emotions better the magic happens: They calm the chaos, raise emotionally intelligent kids, and nurture a family that thrives!
What can I do to emotionally self-regulate better?
Let me make this easy for you. The ability to emotionally self-regulate starts by taking good care of yourself first. Let me say that again. The ability to emotionally self-regulate starts by taking good care of yourself first! In my parenting seminars I help busy parents, just like you, identify and understand how to get (and keep) their batteries charged. We talk about identifying what you need to slow down and live a more balanced life. Doing so will help you emotionally self-regulate which generates better self-control and kids who are well behaved.
For your convenience, here are some action-steps to help you emotionally self-regulate better:
1) Go to bed earlier so you’re more rested.
2) Carve out some down-time AWAY from your children.
3) Actively engage in hobbies.
4) Connect with your partner more.
5) Eat healthier and feed your brain for success.
6) Transform the voice of your inner-critic into a more encouraging one.
Each of these action-steps will lower your stress and help keep your brain out of fight or flight mode. Doing so will give you greater awareness, increased sensitivity, and more confidence to handle stressful moments when your kids misbehave.
A Point To Ponder
Parents who learn how to emotionally self-regulate are calmer and more resourceful parents. They focus less on unwanted behavior and demonstrate greater self-control to accomplish their goals. As a result, they tend to raise kids who are more relaxed and kids who behave better. In the end, when you learn how to emotionally self-regulate better you nurture a family that thrives!
Author: Steve Cuffari For many, Steve Cuffari is the mentor that parents call on to make their parenting style warmer, easier and more affective. He is the founder of inTouch Parenting, a company devoted to helping today's parents calm the chaos, raise emotionally intelligent kids, and nurture families that thrive. read more about Steve Cuffari here...