Emotion Regulation Helps

Whether your kiddo is in kindergarten (or younger!) or a teen, you know kids have BIG feelings as they navigate their big world. So many things create those big feelings: Peer interactions, negative self-talk, social media, home life, you name it! My main focus as an elementary school counselor and therapist is to help children and adults alike develop and master tools for regulating uncomfortable emotions like anxiety, sadness and frustration and feeling good/okay (most of the time!) no matter what is happening in their external world.

As parents, we can model those tools often to our kids. If we are cut off in traffic, instead of saying negative things about the other driver we can say "Man, that was scary. I'm glad we're safe." If we are disappointed, frustrated, sad, anxious or any other uncomfortable feeling we can say out loud, in front of our kids, "I feel (insert feeling) right now and I'm going to think (insert helpful self-talk) and do something to help myself feel better. I'm going to (insert act of self-compassion) after work today." You may feel silly saying those things out loud but often our kiddos don't know HOW we manage our big feelings in a healthy way and they need that modeled to them.

Over the next week or so I’ll be sharing some other tools we are practicing at Echo Lake (my day job 😉) that can be incorporated at home too!

Reset Station: Consider designating a spot in your home where your younger kiddos can “reset” themselves - use some tools to calm down their brains and bodies so they can be problem solvers and feel better. You can teach them to sit down in the designated spot, name their feeling (picked from a feelings chart, these are all over Pinterest!), take 3 deep breaths and then turn over the timer (2 minutes) and use some sort of fidget to "reset" and get back to feeling good. The tools we use at school are a small container of kinetic sand, a marble/net fidget toy, a 2 minute sand timer and a feelings chart. You can add stuffed animals, blankets and any other calming tool your kiddo likes. Age appropriate versions for teens can also be found on Pinterest - some high schools are even designating a spot for students to take breaks in with art supplies, lava lamps, music, essential oil diffusers, etc. Have the conversation with your teen about what tools they like to use when they are feeling uncomfortable feelings and want to feel better.