As I begin this blog on Self-Regulation, I think of how easy it is to raise our children without much focus on this extremely important skill. If our children are fairly well behaved, we usually do not even think in those terms. If we think of it at all, we are proud that they already have self-regulation skills, due at least in part to our brilliant parenting.
Having become a continual student of Conscious Discipline and Dr. Becky Bailey, I find that we probably have taught our children many aspects needed to be in charge of their behavior, but life can be oh so much better, so much sooner, if we teach our children early on how to manage their emotions, feelings, and actions.
Dr. Bailey has written a book called Managing Emotional Mayhem. In this book she shares many helpful aspects of this skill. One of the things that always comes to the forefront in all Conscious Discipline literature is that before we are ready to teach our children these valuable skills, we must first take a look at where we are. How did we get where we are? How were you introduced to managing your emotional mayhem? Was it dismissed? Were you told not to cry? Punished? Made to feel safe? Helped to understand your feelings? Once we become more aware of our own management of our feelings, thoughts, and actions, we will become more aware of our tendencies and how we parent.
Self-Regulation is the ability to regulate our thoughts, feelings, and actions so we can access our high levels of thinking. So, in order to get started, let’s take three deep breaths and begin our journey to self-awareness. It is a life-long journey, so you may have to do this a few times along the way.
Dr. Bailey has five steps which she suggests we consider along the way.
- I AM ….. identifying that something has triggered our emotions and I am angry!
- I CALM …….well, now is the time to take those three deep breaths….accept the emotion without judgment or medication.
- I FEEL…Now let’s identify what this emotion is…once we name it, it becomes conscious. Now we know that we are not the emotion, but that “We feel angry.”
- I CHOOSE….so now that we have accepted the feeling, we give ourselves the opportunity to look at the situation from a different perspective. We are choosing to go from an angry feeling to a calm one.
- I SOLVE….”Awareness is the key to regulation.” By allowing our brain to integrate our conscious awareness, it allows us to access our internal wisdom, guiding us to our best decisions or actions. (Becky Bailey 2011).
These are the steps we can use to disengage our stress response. Once they become a part of how we handle our emotions, we can begin to introduce them to our children. Many of our Early Childhood teachers are doing this in their classrooms, so if your child comes home and says, “You’re safe mom. Breathe with me.” Don’t be surprised. He or she is just learning to manage his/her emotions in a very healthy way.
The language of Conscious Discipline is a little different, but it is given just as a path to get into this process. As you get more and more comfortable with the process, you will make this your own.
I strongly encourage you all to read Managing Emotional Mahem. Though it is written for parents with younger children and for teachers, you will see that it is truly beneficial to us all. Have we all had a time when we might have handled our emotions just a little better?”
I wish you well.
Jo Ellen Williams
Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy