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5 tips to help regulate your emotions



Modeling your stress response for your kids is important

5 tips to help regulate your emotions


Children may learn a great deal in school, but far and away their most important teachers are their parents and other family members. In classrooms, they gain academic knowledge, and even acquire invaluable social skills, but at home, with their families, they will copy behaviors both positive and negative.

Of course we want to keep things as positive as possible, and we want our kids to constructively learn how to deal with the negatives by looking at our good example. But in this final stretch of the winter of the pandemic, with continued isolation, that can be more of a challenge. Luckily, Matt Schneiderman at Fatherly is here to help with five easy tips on how to recognize when a difficult emotional situation is imminent, and how to either avoid it, or deal with it in a healthful way.

First off, he reminds us of the costs of insufficient emotional regulation: “If we let our emotions control us, they do just that: angry, our hearts race and there are strong changes in our breathing. Too little — if we clamp down on emotions as they arise — can lead to worsened mental and physical health.”

Suppression is particularly bad for men, although Schneiderman says it’s “often a go-to strategy for men.” But studies show people who suppressing emotions “do poorly on memory tests, or worse. Long-term, suppression leads to cardiovascular and mental health problems.”

So how about those tips to help find a happy medium?

1. Situation selection

This is basically being more mindful of what situations you allow yourself to be in. Often, this is not in our control, but when it is, choose wisely. Schneiderman’s interviewee, Dr. James Gross, Director of the Stanford Psychophysiology Laboratory and a leading expert in emotion regulation, puts it this way: “If you’re thinking about going to beach but it’s a long drive and there’s traffic, versus the park or zoo which is not a long drive, and if they’re about even as to how fun it’ll be for the kids, pick the option in which you don’t drive.”

2. Situation modification

Rather than blow up, modify the situation. For instance, Schneiderman says, “When stay-at-home orders are in effect, and your kids are in each others’ faces and getting on each others’ nerves, separate them.”

READ MORE: Win yourself back from stress

3. Attention deployment

Gross puts it this way: “Change your attention and you change your emotion. Attention is a vehicle for achieving your emotional regulation goals — shifting towards or away from one aspect of the situation.”

4. Cognitive change

Change your thinking. If your child is whining, rather than react, think about how hard the pandemic is on them.

5. Response modulation

Basically, breathe deeply. Accept what’s happening, but rather than fight it, or let it take you over, breathe through it. “It’s the idea that you are trying to change the output of your emotions,” Gross says.

Good luck! We’ll get through this.



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