Emotion Regulation Helps #2

Emotion Regulation Tool/Skill #2 - Flexible Thinking (See previous post for #1)

One of the major issues we see at school, and you probably see at home, is inflexible thinking. This can look like falling apart when your child doesn't have their favorite striped shirt/underwear/sock combo clean (This was my reality for EVERYDAY of one of my son's 3rd year) or an "I hate you, you're the worst mom ever" when you don't allow your 4th grader a smart phone.

While this can be age appropriate to a certain extent (toddlers as they develop language for instance), cognitive flexibility is a mindset we want to help our kids develop and practice. Kids who practice cognitive flexibility generally are more calm and able to problem solve, say and do appropriate things in all kinds of situations and show acceptance and empathy towards themselves and others. At Echo Lake we use the phrase "Oh well, that's okay, no big deal" with our primary aged students when things don't go how we expect them to or when we don't get what we want. If your child has a particularly hard time with flexible thinking, consider checking out the books More Than One Way To Be Okay: Developing Cognitive Flexibility With Children, My Day Is Ruined: A Story For Teaching Flexible Thinking and Zach Gets Frustrated and reading them with your child. Helping your child make connections to areas they have trouble showing flexibility will help solidify the concepts laid out in the books.

Cognitive flexibility is also a crucial component to developing a growth mindset. Picture books on growth mindset include The Most Magnificent Thing and The Girl Who Never Makes Mistakes. If you haven't gone down the growth mindset rabbit hole (useful for both kids and adults!) then hit up Pinterest and Youtube for tons of information on what it is and how to develop it. Again, if we want our kiddos to develop cognitive flexibility and a growth mindset, we need to develop these skills ourselves and model (TALK OUT LOUD!) how you are thinking/feeling/problem solving different situations. It feels funny at first but it gets easier! It's a win win when we (the adults) work on tools to feel good most of the time and we can teach them to our kiddos even as we learn them!