Control VS. Co-regulation

a photograph of a boy with his eyes closed, hugging his parent.

Imagine this…you tell your child it is time to turn off the t.v. and get ready for dinner. They feel annoyed and ask for another show. You say, “no”, and your child gets more agitated and might have an angry outburst. Your anxiety starts to rise. You feel the urge to control (rather than help them regulate) their rude reaction and teach them something in that moment. You end up arguing, nobody feels heard, and you feel disconnected from your child and defeated. 

This story is one that I have faced many times. 

Control VS. Co-regulation

The urge to control and fix our children’s emotional reactions is deeply ingrained, in some form or another. Rather than repeating the pattern of emotional control, suppression, and shame, I am continuously working on regulating myself in these moments so that I can help teach my children how to regulate themselves in healthy ways. Often times it simply means sitting calmly and finding acceptance to their reaction, without seeing it as a teaching moment or trying to control their reaction. This is easier said than done! Hence my meditation practice.  

Mirror neurons, as explained by Dan Seigle, teach us that when we can regulate ourselves we automatically help teach and regulate our children. This concept motivated me to do the work on myself, to make the healing of my own emotional trauma more intentional, AND in doing so teaching my children healthy emotional processing. 

Learning healthy emotional processing and being motivated to support this in my own children, is what inspired the development of the Kind Mind Compass, a compassionate approach to emotional regulation for homes and classrooms everywhere. 

This week, practice regulating YOURSELF in moments of your child’s and/or students’ emotional outbursts.

This week’s practice: 

  1. When you feel triggered by your child or student’s emotional disturbance or outburst, stop and bring your attention inward. Use these tools to help keep you grounded and regulate: 
        • Hand to your heart and breathe
        • Take 5 slow, deep breaths
        • Make eye contact with your child, using a soft gaze

In the classroom & at home: 

  1. Same as above – keep in mind the impact of your own ability to regulate will bring you closer to your goals: 
        • A regulated child
        • A deeper connection with your child
        • Self-healing and healthy emotional processing

     2. Kind Mind’s Compass was created as a VISUAL CUE for moments of a trigger 

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