When we find our own calm, we are accessing the best parenting strategy we have. 

Whenever I see a parenting trick, tip or strategy offered, I think, “What about the parent delivering this thing?” This is because of how important a parent’s regulation is when they are implementing a strategy. 


Now this is not a small ask, and not something that ANY parent does 100% of the time (even me!) because although we are amazing parents, we are also human. A reframe that has helped me is to think about these things as practices. Calling it a practice means that gentleness is built into it. No one is saying ALWAYS DO THESE THINGS! But instead, ‘hey, wanna try this, see how it goes?’


So the goal is to get ourselves regulated before we try to help our child with their dysregulation. And if you do this, even for 30 seconds, we get to call it a win! 


These ideas are just to get you going, but the real powerful stuff is when you know how you find your point of calm in those hard parenting moments, so that you can return to that! I mean if you already know it works, then it’s a great place to return to. 

What about the parent?

Four Strategies to Regulate Us

1. Breathe in for 4 seconds, out for 8

Why this might work?

Breathing out for longer than we breathe in, can calm our nervous system. There are so many breath techniques, and if you are breathing, you are doing great. This one also can help us have something to focus on (another way to regulate ourselves is to move to our thinking and processing part of our brain- the prefrontal cortex) and remember to do. 


2. Go to empathy for your child

Why this might work?

When we remember our child is having their own experience we can regulate FOR them. Sometimes I feel the dysregulation rising (or the marbles filling up the marble jar-see my other blog post for more on this), I look my sweet girl’s little face. Her round cheeks and big brown eyes and remember she’s so small, and young and really does need me in this moment. It works!


3. Place your hand on your heart

Why this might work?


Physical touch to our chest can be calming and grounding. Try it! Right now, just place your flat hand on your heart (maybe for bonus points close your eyes) and see how you feel. It’s okay if this one doesn’t land for you, but if you do get a sense of calm and comfort for it, it could be one to try for the next storm. 


4. Get curious

Why this might work:


Curiosity calms the limbic system. When I learned this from Dr. Stuart Shanker, I was so excited! Excited because I know that curiosity is one of my strengths, and when we can utilize our strengths in parenting, things feel easier. I like asking questions of my child, or even of myself. 

“I wonder what’s going on for them right now?” Or “Where am I feeling this in my body right now?” 


Something that can help with HOW we implement these strategies is to try practicing them in a NOT intense moment, and strengthen the path of:⠀


something intense happens ➡️ I access a strategy ➡️ I become more regulated


Then every time you notice this successful pathway, you will possibly find it more quickly and easily the next time!



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