Self-Regulation

At times being able to witness our children’s emotions can feel overwhelming. It may trigger us & we might find ourselves feeling overwhelmed. A key component of being able to witness our children’s emotions is to self-regulate our own emotions on these moments & also to take care of our nervous system on a day to day basis.

Helpful Links

Click here for course notes

Create your own personalized mantra

Feelings Wheel for adults

Taking care of our nervous system

10Min. Somatic Yoga – Youtube Link

Taking care of our child’s nervous system

Feelings Wheel for kids

Breathing Exercises/Cards for kids

Feel free to join the conversation below.

11 Comments
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What an information dense class! I feel like your lessons are like therapy sessions – they’re so insightful into how and why we do what we do. I can’t get enough of learning this stuff. Very overwhelming and emotionally tiring but this is the bomb. Keep up the great work Sterna.

Sterna Suissa (Administrator) March 16, 2022 at 4:36 PM

Esther your feedback, encouragement & your kind words mean so much to me. Thank you.

I wasn’t able to open a few of the resources. Maybe it’s something on my end but I wanted to let you know:)

Sterna Suissa (Administrator) June 29, 2022 at 8:25 PM

Thank you Caro for letting me know. I am looking into this right now & will keep you updated on this matter.

Sterna Suissa (Administrator) July 6, 2022 at 9:16 AM

HI Caro,

I double checked on my end & everything is opening up properly. Can you double check on your end too & let me know specifically which link isn’t working on your end please?

hi! i have a question: lets say i’m starting to feel really frustrated bc were doing an activity (rice play) and my child starts throwing it. I asked her before starting the activity to keep it in the box or on the sheet under us. i know she was testing my boundaries when throwing, so i calmly remind her to keep it on the sheet. first of all, what is thebest response at this point (i want to tell her nicely that if it continues, well have to put it away and i don’t like how it feels when it sounds like im threatening) and second, what is the response i should hav after it happened again and i feel frustrated? I dont think its coming from a place of being triggered, just annoyed. i guess my question is what should my general approach be or goal when communicating my frustration? i hope this question isnt too all over the place! for reference my daughter is 3.

Sterna Suissa (Administrator) June 19, 2023 at 9:24 PM

Hi Rochel,

I love this question & one that I think so many other parents can resonate with- definitely not all over the place and I get how such situations can unravel and get messy and overwhelming. It helps to keep this basic rule in our minds: Kids show us what they are not capable of and what they are capable of and we need to believe them. Meaning, let’s go back to your scenario: you take an activity out, you share your boundary about rice not being able to be thrown out of the container- then you see your child throwing it – at this point in time, we need to believe that your child is doing their best, which means they are having a hard time containing the rice and they can’t hold back from throwing it. We have to be active about our boundary and we can go about this situation in many ways. Here are some suggestions:
“Oh my, We can’t have rice everywhere and I see how much you want to throw the rice. Let’s take this outside to our balcony/backyard where it’s okay if the rice gets everywhere. Come, let me help you…”
Or
“Hmmmm, I see how much you want to throw rice and I also can’t have rice everywhere. How about we fill up a closed ziplock and then you can throw that bag? What do you think? Should we try this?” (giving your child’s need to throw while also honouring your need to contain the mess)
OR
“Wow! I see how much fun it is to throw rice everywhere. I get it. I also see that it’s hard not to throw the rice. I’m going to put this away right now because we can’t have rice all over. Let’s do something else…” if child yells and screams and cries, we can allow that moment to pass a little till we see we can have a conversation and share something like, “you are 3 yrs old, sometimes it’s hard to control our hands at this age- this activity might not work out for right now. We will get back to it another time. What would you like to do instead?”

Let me know what you think of these suggestions and if this sounds doable for you. I love this question so much that I will bring it up at the Q&A meeting to dive deeper into such situations 🙂

thanks so much for the response! i love the alternatives. my only follow up question is: is it beneficial to ever tell my child that im starting to feel frustrated by their actions? of course, dont want them to feel responsible for my emotions, but i saw it mentioned on a parenting page that i follow and not sure about this approach.

Sterna Suissa (Administrator) July 10, 2023 at 8:15 AM

Hi Rochel,

I don’t think we can blame our child’s actions for our frustration – yes, at times things they do can be frustrating and our reactions are always our responsibility. What do you think? I think we can share honestly by saying, “I feel overwhelmed, I need a moment” & “a part of me feels so frustrated right now” AND no need to add: “because of what you did!” or “because of you!” because when we dig deeper usually what we find frustrating has more to do with our inner world than the actual action. For example our child speaks to us in a rude manner & we feel our body getting frustrated. Oftentimes, it has to do with the feelings we fell within us that are being awakened : not being considered, not being loved, not being important etc. Do you see what I am saying here? I speak more on this topic in the course called triggered. Let me know if this answers your question.

Thank you for your detailed response! I totally agree and I’m trying to understand how when I say something like a part of me feels really frustrated right now wouldn’t lead my child to think that it isn’t their fault. I am guilty of saying things like ‘I’m not happy about this’ when my daughter (who’s almost 3) does things like throw food on purpose or does something that I find triggering. Of course your examples are so much better and I will be working on implementing them when I feel trieggered so thank you for that. I know my daughter may follow up one of these responses (especially the one saying a part of me feels really frustrated) with ‘because i threw the food?’ Which has been her response when I’ve said I’m not happy about something. It’s hard to admit to these mistakes, but I am only working on improving and want to get to the bottom of this! Thank you so much 🤍

Sterna Suissa (Administrator) July 19, 2023 at 1:50 PM

I love that you are questioning this and thinking deeply into this topic.

Here’s how I look at it: Feeling frustrated is fine – it’s our emotional reaction that is always our responsibility no matter what someone else does. For example:
Our 3yrs old child throws food on the floor.
We start yelling & screaming that we told them so many times to not throw food.
Who’s responsible here for our reaction? Yes, our child needs to learn & needs help in regards to not throwing food AND no matter what she’s done, we are responsible for our emotional REACTION. There’s a difference between **how we feel** and **how we react**. Yes, our child pushed our buttons & awakened such emotions within us AND the way we react to our emotions is our responsibility.

So, when explaining to kids they aren’t responsible for our emotional reactions, we share things like:
“A part of me is feeling frustrated, I need a moment” then child asks, “why? because I threw food?”
we can be honest: “When I see food everywhere, it’s hard for me & I know you are also having a hard time.” (to an older child we might explain further: “I value food & worked hard to make it & so many thoughts come to my mind where I feel unappreciated & disrespected & this is for me to work through”.)

Now, this example is a little tricky because a 3 yrs old lacks impulse control & they will throw food & really needs our help. Every time we get frustrated over something, we want to think over: How can I be proactive about this for next time? Here’s a suggestion that worked well for many other families. Suggest a “food you don’t want bowl” and give your child a little bowl with their lunch/dinner/snack and tell them whatever food they don’t want they can place into this bowl. See what happens and let me know, if that doesn’t work we can come up with something else.

No let me share a situation in regards to a child who’s old enough to have a certain responsibly:
For example, we tell our 10yrs old child to put their scooter away in the garage when they are done with it.
One day, we trip over their scooter which was left in the entrance of our house.
We start yelling and screaming at our child for not having put away their scooter.
Who’s responsible?
Our child is responsible to put away their scooter AND we are responsible for watching where we walk.
We are also responsible for our emotional reaction.
Does this clarify your question?
This is a HUGE topic and one that has many layers to it.
I’m open to your follow up questions.

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