Tools for Your Parenting Toolbox: EMOTIONAL LITERACY & SELF-REGULATION
Welcome back to my series on how we can support our kids by using some simple therapeutic
strategies at home. My name is Kim Hamilton and I’m a therapist at Louisville Mindfulness Center. I
specialize in working with kids, teens, and parents to create family harmony. I love to support
parents by offering them tools for their parenting toolbox to handle the stress and uncertainty
that comes along with parenting.
Last time I talked about Attunement and discussed three ways of noticing when they need a
deeper level of attention, therefore strengthening our relationships with them and helping
them to better understand themselves and their feelings. We can do this by 1) paying attention,
2) reflecting, and 3) validating. If you missed it or want a refresher, you can check it out here.
Today I’ll share two more tools: emotional literacy and self-regulation.
Let’s start with Emotional Literacy. We can help our kids by helping them to understand their own feelings and how their body physically responds to those emotions. We’ve all experienced “butterflies” in our stomachs when we get nervous, but what about that stomach ache or headache; or that pressure in our chest or inability to catch a breath? What do they mean? When they can learn to tune in to their emotions, to become aware of them, and notice them, they will not only get better at managing their emotions but also at being able to predict them.
But what do we do when it is already happening?
When we are in the moment of strong emotion, it is difficult to regulate that feeling. Think about when your child is having a tantrum or has asked you 20 times for the same thing. It is easy to feel overwhelmed with emotions, which often lead to behaviors we may regret later. The same is true for kids when they are fighting with a friend or anxious about a big test.
By learning to self-regulate in those moments, we can be in control of how we react. Pausing and breathing intentionally is key to this.
One breathing technique I like is box breathing – breath in for four second, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and then hold for four seconds again.
You can also use grounding techniques like 5-4-3-2-1. Name five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can touch, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. You can also go for a
walk, jump up and down, listen to music, or do anything else that helps.
Model this self-regulation to your kids and explain to them what you are doing. This will show them how they can also cope in the midst of difficult feelings.
I invite you to experiment with emotional literacy and self-regulation and see how it goes! Feel free to email me and let me know: Kim@LouisvilleMindfulnessCenter.com.
If you liked what you read and feel I could be of assistance to you and your family, feel free to schedule a free 10-minute consult with me at your convenience online HERE!
Kim Hamilton, MAMFT specializes in working with kids, teens, and parents to bring emotional regulation and harmony to families and households. She works from a non-judgemental, solution-focused, non-pathologizing perspective that creates win-win scenarios within relationships. Megan Bayles Bartley is excited for Kim to join the team and knows she will be a wonderful resource for your family.
Find out more on Kim’s bio page on the Louisville Mindfulness Center website!
*This blog was inspired by the Washington Post article: “Five skills parents can learn so they can help their children cope”