Raising small humans is physically, mentally and emotionally demanding at the best of times. Add two years of navigating a global pandemic and, understandably, emotions may be running high and patience running thin. Wondrous and rewarding as parenting is, it can also be incredibly challenging and trigger some of our own big emotions. The challenge is not to avoid feeling these things altogether, but to be able to navigate them in a way that you can feel proud of.
Sometimes these emotions can throw our body and mind out of balance. In this state, it is helpful to have some tools to recalibrate. Our nervous system is responsible for many important functions such as our heart rate, digestion and breathing. Intense emotions can trigger ‘sympathetic activation of the nervous system’ or as it is more commonly known, the ‘fight, flight, freeze’ mode. When we find ourselves in this state, we are more likely to react to a situation with aggression and panic. Aggression and panic can often make a stressful situation worse or have us act in ways we later regret. Giving ourselves space to first regulate our emotions and bodies is an invaluable step to responding rather than reacting.
Some simple tools to help return to calm are:
Pause: Give yourself a moment. Have a go-to phrase to buy yourself a few minutes for example, “I am feeling quite emotion right now, I’m going to take five minutes to breathe and calm down.”
Breathe: Our breathing is connected to our nervous system. When we calm our breathing, we signal to the body that we are safe. One simple breathing technique to bring awareness to your breath is by box breathing. Breathe in for four seconds, hold for four, breath out for four then hold again for four and repeat.
Hot chocolate breathing: To encourage mindful breathing for our tamariki, they can pretend they are holding a hot chocolate in front of them, tell them to take a deep sniff to smell the chocolate marshmallow goodness, then gently blow on it to cool it down. Repeat this a few times.
Engage your senses: An easy mindfulness practice is the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique. To do this you simply note mentally or on paper, five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste.
Other ideas include bilateral stimulation which mean giving yourself a hug, gently massaging upper arm, splashing your face with cold water, and putting on your favourite song and dancing. The best way to teach children how to regulate their emotions is by modelling it to them. If you’d like more information or some support with developing any of these skills, contact us at Homebuilders Warkworth.