Some parents complain about their children not following directions and rules. “He is out of control” or “She is very oppositional”. Children’s behaviors are not always consistent. It is not possible for them to give consistent reactions to everything but some of this can change. This change happen if the parents can learn to regulate their emotions.
First thing to keep in mind is that you can’t control or change another person, even if it’s your child. You can only change yourself, which changes how the other person responds to you. So as you change, your child changes.
1. Children learn emotional regulation from their parents:If parents throw objects, slam doors, and yell when they are angry or stressed, children will do the same. If we can stay calm and not be impulsive, children will learn to calm themselves under stress and anger.
2. The emotional safety parents create for their children allows them to heal and grow: When parents are calm, it gives children a basis loving connection. They will have a secure healthy basis to go back to when they feel angry and stressed. When they feel better, they do better.
3. When parents provide a calm environment for their children, they feel safe enough to experience their emotions: If children know that their parents will react to them in a calm manner, they will be more likely to share.
4. When children respect their parents and feel understood by them, they want to follow their lead. A child needs a parent who understands, even when they say no. This way the child becomes more open to guidance, more likely to follow rules. Your child will follow your lead if they respect you.
5. Children are sensitive of their parents’ moods: when a parent is going through difficult emotion, children are able to sense this. Their behavior changes.
6. When parents respond differently, children respond differently too. For stability, remember, it’s always your child’s action + your response that = the outcome. When parents get triggered and react without thinking, the response could be unstable. When parents respond more mindfully and think before they react, they can get more stable outcomes.
It’s never too late for children to learn to manage themselves emotionally. The key is role-modeling.
If you are a parent, you can start by noticing your own moods and feelings. When you get upset, resist acting until you’re calm. Just breathe, and hold yourself with compassion, so you can calm down before you act.
-Ipek Aykol, LMFT 97315