Understanding Our Reactions
We can only draw upon what we know. When engaged in a power struggle with a child, many of us revert to a more authoritative parenting style, echoing our own upbringing to regain control. In doing so, we ourselves become stressed. Distress is raw and intense, and our ability to tolerate it greatly impacts our reactions.
The Importance of Stress Tolerance in Emotional Fitness
Developing our ability to handle distress, or building our stress tolerance levels, allows us to provide a calm environment for those in our care, helping them navigate their emotional storms. Attempting to intervene mid-storm often results in us being swept up in their turmoil, shifting from co-regulation to co-escalation. Building stress tolerance is a vital part of emotional fitness.
Limbic Resonance and Emotional Contagion
Limbic resonance is a phenomenon where two people's limbic systems communicate deep emotional states directly between each other, beneath the level of active consciousness (Dr Shanker, 2012). This emotional contagion can be observed in large group rallies, classrooms, or within families. What does that mean? If our child is in a dysregulated state, and we are not aware of our own levels of stress and are able to regulate ourselves in the moment, we will get caught up in the drama. Our bodies will drop us into a stress response with our child, mirroring their state, and the situation will escalate. Often leading to chaos and an unhelpful outcome or learning opportunity. It is through these messy experiences that we can move a child along the continuum of co-regulation to self-regulation.
The Role of Regulation in Emotional Fitness
As parents, it's essential to be regulated when our child becomes distressed. Otherwise, we risk fuelling the storm. In these unregulated moments, we often draw on memories and experiences, which might not always be the most effective response in the moment. And often come from our past experiences of being parented. Regulation plays a key role in achieving emotional fitness.
Reframing the Behaviour for Emotional Fitness
The first step of Shanker Self-Reg® – "Reframe the behaviour" – offers a helpful starting point for emotional fitness. By viewing the behaviour as "stress behaviour" rather than "misbehaviour," we can pause, breathe, and assess our own capacity to manage the situation. This allows us to shift from reaction to response.
Support from InnerWise Education
Developing this skill can change how we support our children during behavioural outbursts, modelling growth-promoting ways to manage intense emotions. Vanessa at InnerWise Education can help you build a shared language and enhance emotional fitness within your family.
The Transition to Self-Regulation and Emotional Fitness
Modelling and building a shared language is crucial for helping children transition from co-regulation to self-regulation, an essential aspect of emotional fitness. By lending our calm in the moment, we create opportunities to teach important family values or lessons at more receptive times.
If we do get caught up in the drama, it's important to repair the relationship afterwards. Demonstrating our own humanity and acknowledging our mistakes fosters authentic relationships, communication, and trust – essential elements in promoting emotional fitness as children enter their teenage years.
Navigating the Teenage Years
The teenage years are a time of significant change and growth. Young people are developing their social skills, sense of identity, and independence while managing internal biological changes. They will naturally push back and challenge us, and it's during these times that we need to build our capacity to support them without reacting. To guide, support and let go of the small stuff. When they have an emotional outburst, it is not personal; it is just too much for them in the moment. We need to build our repertoire of strategies to meet their needs at this developmental age.
Patience, Compassion, and Self-Compassion in Emotional Fitness
As parents, it's essential to practice patience, compassion, self-compassion, and the ability to change our parental strategies to grow with them throughout the parenting journey. Together, we can cultivate compassionate, regulated, connected, and emotionally fit individuals.
How Vanessa Kay Can Help with Emotional Fitness
Vanessa Kay, through her work at InnerWise Education, is committed to helping parents and families build their Emotional Fitness to better meet the needs of those in their care. Through tailored programs and personalized support, Vanessa can provide the necessary guidance and support to build this understanding which translates to all aspects of life.
Emotional Fitness Training and Assistance
Vanessa offers a range of services, including workshops, one-on-one coaching, and group sessions, all designed to help parents and children develop emotional fitness. She combines evidence-based approaches and practical strategies to address the unique needs of each family.
A Community of Emotional Fitness Support
By working with Vanessa Kay, you become part of a supportive community that values emotional fitness and strives for growth and improvement. Through ongoing resources and educational materials, you'll be empowered to continue your emotional fitness journey with confidence.
Reach Out for Emotional Fitness Guidance
For further support and assistance in building emotional fitness for yourself and your family, please contact Vanessa Kay. She is committed to helping individuals and families navigate the complexities of life with greater resilience, compassion, and emotional well-being.