All of us self-regulate whether we are aware of it or not. We move, we breathe, we use fidgets or visualization, we do yoga, meditate. These strategies help us handle our stress and anxieties. It is very important that we practice ways to de-stress ourselves and then look at what our children can do to calm themselves. When they are babies, there is nothing wrong with helping them with self-soothing, showing them what they need to do. As they get older, it’s important to slowly start moving away from helping and letting them figure out what works for themselves. I was a very hands on Mom, and still am to some degree, but I have been slowly learning to let go and remind Michael how he needs to self-regulate finding out what works for him. He is not a big yoga fun or likes meditating, but watching calming videos and taking a deep breath while squeezing the edge of a chair seems to be something that works.
It’s been tough though, reminding Michael what he can do. He will usually ask me to help him, and now that he is older I am redirecting him to find strategies on his own as he is old enough and capable enough to do this. He struggles with self-esteem and speaking up for himself. I am doing my best to remind him that he needs to learn to calm himself before he can understand what it is he needs to do to be happy and in balance. It is a learning curve, but I know with some great new tools he received, he will get there.
Having discussions with your children about thinking before you speak (Stop and Think), taking deep breaths and putting yourself in other people’s shoes, are great beginnings for starting to see what you need to change in your attitude to stress. As exceptional parents, we also need to make sure we are modeling using our strategies to diffuse or handle stress. This will help our children make more positive choices. And when we mess up, that’s ok. We need to say, “we’re all human and make mistakes. Mom/Dad learned what to do differently next time.”
Exceptional Parents, what are your regulating strategies? What hasn’t worked? It’s important to keep that in mind as you guide your child on their journey of self-control and so they see that making mistakes is ok as long as we learn from them and move forward in a different direction. Until next time.