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  • Writer's pictureOld Town Counseling

Getting Started With Emotional Regulation: A Parent’s Guide

Miriam Bellamy, LMFT

As a parent today you’re juggling extremely full schedules and probably not taking enough time for yourself. This can make it hard to navigate and manage your emotions. Today, we’re talking about how being in tune with your emotions can help you reduce stress and overwhelm and help you understand what brings you happiness and joy. 


Understanding your emotions is an essential part of parenting. It helps you regulate your own emotions and it will help you teach your kids as well. Emotions give you insight into your life and help you understand yourself better. It can also help you understand the world around you and let you know what changes you need to make. As you learn more about how to do this, you’ll be able to pass it along to your kids, helping you raise resilient, empathic, emotionally intelligent children.


Benefits Of Emotional Regulation For Families 

The first step in emotional regulation is being more aware of your emotions so that you can identify what you’re feeling. After you master this you can start to pay attention to what your emotions are telling you. If you learn to use emotions as clues, you can learn more about yourself, how to handle different situations, and even be more proactive with emotional regulation.


Being able to understand and regulate your own emotions will help you teach your children to do the same. 


Families who can understand emotions and regulate them report:


  • Less conflict (and better conflict resolution when it does occur)

  • Increased understanding and empathy for one another

  • Better connection and support for each other

  • Family members who feel valued and respected

  • Healthy communication within the family 


Being in tune with your emotions, understanding them, and learning what they are telling you can have a positive impact on your life.

5 Ways Emotional Awareness Can Help You As A Parent 

As a parent, you want to reduce overwhelm the best you can. You also want to raise your kids to be empathic, compassionate, and emotionally intelligent. Being able to work with your emotions and learn to regulate them can help you achieve all these goals.

Here are five ways being more in tune with your emotions can help you as a busy parent. 

You learn what your emotions are telling you


Being able to label your emotions and understand what you’re feeling is the first step toward emotional regulation. Once you learn to identify your emotions you can learn to understand what your emotions are telling you. Think of the emotion as a clue, telling you something about the world around you or what is going on within you. Once you know what the message is you can work with your emotions to understand what action you need to take next. 


Maybe you need to…

  • Set a boundary with someone

  • Connect and spend more with certain people

  • Take action toward a goal

  • Take more time for yourself

  • Remove yourself from a bad situation


As you work with your emotions you become more in tune with your feelings and recognize what they’re trying to tell you. As you learn this, you’ll have more insight into your life and the world around you.

Improve communication and conflict resolution


You’ll find that working with your emotions will help you to express yourself more clearly to others.  People with increased emotional awareness learn to approach conflicts and disagreements more calmly and communicate more effectively.  You’ll also learn to regulate your emotions during times of stress or conflict. 


To learn more about your emotions you can keep a journal of them. Notice how your body feels when you feel different emotions.

How do you feel when you’re…

  • Happy?

  • Sad?

  • Angry?

  • Frustrated? 

  • Anxious


Your body gives you clues to what you’re feeling. Being in tune with your mind and body can help you understand your feelings as they come. For some, bodily changes come first. Knowing how you react to different emotions can also give you a clue that certain emotions are coming up.


Model emotional awareness for your kids


Being able to understand your emotions and work with them can help you express them to others. The more work you do in this area, the more it will become a part of your everyday life which will help you model emotional awareness for your kids.

Support your kids’ social and emotional development 


As you understand your own emotions, learn what they are telling you, and work with them you can be a good support to your kids in their social and emotional development.  You can guide them through big emotions, helping them understand their thoughts and feelings and teach them how to cope with big feelings, and express them in a healthy, age-appropriate way.


We recommend the work of Karla McLaren as a great place to start. Check out The Language of Emotions and all the resources McLaren has to offer.


There are also many books and guided journals for kids to help them understand their emotions. 

Become more resilient 


Resilience is being able to bounce back from difficult situations. Being more in tune with your emotions and knowing what they’re telling you helps you navigate life’s challenges and helps you bounce back when you’re having a tough time. Many people weren’t taught emotional resilience skills but the good news is that it’s a skill that can be learned at any point in your adult life. 

How Neurofeedback Can Help 

NeurOptimal® is one tool you can use to help with emotional regulation skills, flexibility, and resilience becuase it optimizes the brain for best performance. When the brain is optimized and works more efficiently, it can help you feel your emotions as you learn to work with them.

Neurofeedback trains the brain for flexibility and resilience so the more you train the more your thoughts and feelings will flow more freely.

Sometimes the first couple of neurofeedback sessions actually brings out emotions. That’s ok.  This can be important because when you feel these emotions you can identify them and explore the purpose of the emotion. 

How Does NeurOptimal® Work?

NeurOptimal® is like holding a mirror up to your brain – meaning it gives your brain the information it needs to make its own adjustments. 

The system detects when your brain makes a sudden shift and allows the brain to self-correct. Your brain is already trained to do this. Your brain has a feedback loop to self-correct when needed so NeurOptimal® is just tapping into this ability, allowing your brain to do the work to find optimal functioning.

Over time, your brain will automatically shift toward optimal functioning.

NeurOptimal® has been designated as a general wellness product by the FDA to help:

  • Promote healthy sleep habits

  • Manage stress

  • Increase emotional resilience

  • Promote relaxation

  • Bring you back to the present moment


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