Categories: Special Needs

Ideas to Teach & to Learn Emotional Regulation

I started an authentic parenting workshop this week. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, honestly. Much like “mindful parenting”, I feel “authentic parenting” is thrown around in a way that doesn’t put many of us on the same page. 

Do you feel that way, too?

My guess is you probably have and that you probably have one extreme opinion or another on the term “authentic”.

What it means to you may mean something different to me so let’s leave it to the experts.

Merriam-Webster defines it well:

authentic

adjectiveau· then· tic | ə-ˈthen-tik,  ȯ-

Definition of authentic

1aworthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact paints an authentic picture of our society

bconforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features an authentic reproduction of a colonial farmhouse

cmade or done the same way as an original authentic Mexican fare

2not false or imitation: REALACTUALan authentic cockney accent

3true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character is sincere and authentic with no pretensions

Authentic Parenting 101

I decided to take the workshop to connect and to discuss with other parents. I’m feeling stale in my parenting these days and with a soon to be middle school the anxiety of losing my kids, of missing out, of longing for the earlier days is becoming a daily experience for me. Who am I kidding? These anxious feelings happen many times throughout the day.

So, I went in search of ways to circle back to the moment in all it’s good, bad, & ugly glory & triumphs.

So, what did I learn?

That I’m not alone (always a good reminder). That is a big one. 

Related Read: How to Stop Tantrums & Live Happily Ever After

According to research, parents of “secure” infants (defined as a child who perceives his parents as emotionally available, consistent, attuned, collaborative, and responsive) readily adapt their own caregiving style to that of their child “in a fashion that was apparently ‘good enough’, the behavior of these parents tended to reflect sensitivity rather than misattunement, acceptance rather than rejection, cooperation rather than control, and emotional availability rather than remoteness.”

In other words, I need to stop caring about what others think about me, my kids, and my parenting style. My child often has trouble getting along with his peers. So this point is a particularly important one for me to keep in mind. I need to embrace my a la carte parenting approach and simply accept who I am as a mother. 

Easy, right?

All of this means that we need to journey inward to find our authentic parenting persona. Does that make sense?

Maybe this quote will help…

“How we have come to make sense of our lives, how we tell a coherent story of our early life experiences, is the best predictor of how our children will become attached to us.” ~ Dan Siegel

Furthermore…

“Reflecting on your childhood experiences can help you make sense of your life…A deeper self-understanding changes who you are. Making sense of your life enables you to understand others more fully and give you the possibility of choosing your behaviors and opening your mind to a fuller range of experiences… Changing attachment status as we develop (earned security) is quite possible.” ~ Dan Siegel

From there I thought about my relationship with my mother (my father died when I was a baby, thus I was raised by a single mom) and how it changed over time. I thought about how my mother parented me and my siblings. I thought about how my mother communicated with me.

Then I thought about what pieces of my mother I carried with me into my parenting…

…and what I hope my kids will learn from their life being parented by me.

Heavy stuff but kind of fun, too.

Ideas for Emotional Regulation

Most recently, we discussed emotional regulation strategies for children & parents. The content was amazing. So, I obviously have to share a bit with you!

The instructor shared a Victor Frankl quote (I am a huge fan of this man’s work) that resonated with me big time.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth & our freedom.”

Powerful, right?

I view a goal for myself and my children to find a way to expand that space to choose a response.

Here are a few ideas to make emotional regulation a reality:

  • Practice reflective thinking by being receptive and thoughtful about our internal states AND the internal states of others
  • Be curious about your child’s thoughts, emotions, motivations, intentions, & subsequent behaviors
  • Identify your triggers & your child’s triggers. Literally, make a list and try to stay one step ahead of the triggers. (Proactive vs. Reactive)
  • Teach your child about emotional regulation by discussing & creating “anger rules” as a family
  • Be an emotional regulation model for your child
  • Talk about high, low, and amazing points of the day
  • Learn together to pause, breathe, respond, and then reflect

What do you think? How do you maintain authenticity as a parent? What are your strategies for teaching emotional regulation?

By the way, if you’re looking for a nice little back to school activity, these All About Me Activities are great!

Marnie Craycroft

Marnie hails from Maine where she spent summers buried in sand and winters buried in snow. She is the daughter of a nearly four decade veteran of the public school systems. Teaching has always been a part of her life. She founded Carrots Are Orange in 2010.

Carrots Are Orange is a Montessori learning and living website for parents and teachers.

Marnie graduated from Wesleyan University in 1999 with a BA in Economics. She spent nearly a decade working in investment management. In 2006, she earned her MA in business from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.

Marnie moved to the west coast in 1999 and currently lives in Boulder with her husband and three sons. She is Montessori trained. Her work has been featured on Apartment Therapy, Buzzfeed, PBS Kids, BabyCenter, the Melissa & Doug blog, Huffington Post, and WhattoExpect.com. Besides writing, passions include running (usually after her three sons), photography, and outdoor adventures.

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