Show up for Yourself & Show up for your Child
Be Present Now
Bring to memory the last time you stood near your child. Were you conscious of the fact that your energetic field was coming into direct contact with his or hers? How you were feeling in that moment was being felt by your child.
How you, as a guide and model, feel, speak, and act in any given moment lays the foundation for emotional regulation in children.
We all have experienced a loved one who was so full of joy that it overflowed to brighten our mood. There is scientific evidence showing that this is not simply an empathetic feeling, rather, there is an invisible interaction occurring. Your intertwined energy is engaging in reciprocal communication through your respective biofields.
This is very important information that can nurture our interactions and empower emotional regulation in children. In addition, this conversation of energy contributes to the positive development of empathy, literacy development, relationship building/sustaining, cognitive development, and overall wellbeing just to list a few.
The concept of the biofield has been recognized by many names in most cultures and spiritual practices over the course of history. In modern times the biofield describes the idea that all living entities produce, interact, and react with energy fields as a necessary part of optimal well-being. The energetic information held in the biofield is communicative and receives knowledge from internal and external sources. It sends information outward, influencing the energy fields of those nearby.
“…These energy fields are in continuous interaction with the multiplicity of energy fields in the environment, it appears that information about nonlocal events and process is conveyed back to the body and processed as intuition.” The Coherent Heart
The intimate interaction of our biofields is registered by our body as emotional stimuli and processed accordingly. If you are feeling someone’s joy, as in the example, their joy is absorbed and processed by your biofield. Your body releases oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins in your brain in congruence with your loved one.
Children are inundated with the message that their feelings are unimportant. How often is a child told, “Hush, don’t cry” or, “You’re OK.” To children who are experiencing a feeling, these messages are confusing and cause dysregulation. Children are feeling something powerful in their bodies and yet are told not to feel it. Messages that communicate a need to suppress emotions, derail the development of emotional regulation in children. Over time this will result in disembodiment. When a child feels an emotion he or she will feel the need to ignore that emotion, to pretend it does not exist. This can be translated into a variety of behaviors. For some children, they learn to numb themselves. They disconnect from their body in times of heightened emotion. Eventually this numbed state may become their normal day-to-day emotional status. Other children find ways to redirect their emotions through behavior. Often this behavior is manifested in ways we find challenging to address.
The paradigm shift I offer is to instead validate all of children’s feelings, positive and negative. Honor their inherent wisdom. Assist them in emotional regulation. Guide them in being embodied.
Showing Up for Yourself
A crucial piece of this is to not only do it for your child but for yourself as well.
What you are feeling your child will feel from the energetic exchange that occurs in the biofield.
I invite you to show up for yourself. To feel into your body. To feel your emotions. To label those emotions. To take the time necessary to do what you need to regulate yourself and find alignment. Once you are able to do this for yourself you will be better able to guide your child in learning these skills. You will be guiding from a space of alignment between your feelings, behaviors, and words.
Emotional regulation in children does not entail feelings of simple serenity. It means that children are conscious of their emotions and are in an empowered place where they can act and speak intentionally.
We want children to recognize that what they are feeling in any given moment is not all encompassing. That emotion is not who they are but rather their current emotional state. We are not sad, we feel sad.
A child can be self-regulated and still feel sadness in his or her body.
Children are still learning how to articulate, integrate, and regulate their feelings. They know they feel something but are still unsure of what that something is. This is where they need nurturance and empowerment.
They first need help in recognizing that they are feeling a certain way. You can begin to help them by labeling their feelings for them at first. This emotional regulation and literacy tool can be implemented the moment a child is brought into the world. This will lay a strong foundation for the development of emotional regulation in children.
When a toddler begins stomping the floor shouting, “NO” you can respond by saying, “Wow, you are feeling frustrated.” You are labeling the emotion for the child and helping to make the neural connection between how the child is feeling and how he or she can label that feeling in the future. Similarly, when you are feeling frustrated, your behavior begins to express that feeling. You can verbally label your feelings for your child, who will already be unconsciously aware of the feelings thanks to the biofield.
You can help them build a repertoire of words they can utilize to describe their feelings.
Going a step further, you can help your child integrate and regulate their feelings by modeling and/or talking about self-regulation strategies. All feelings are inherently good. The beautiful array of human emotion needs to be felt and honored. However, these feelings need to be expressed in a way that is conscious and constructive.
For example, if you are feeling angry it is not constructive for you to walk up to someone and scream in their face. In parallel, you probably do not find it acceptable for your child to scream, “NO” at you when they are angry. The goal is to feel the anger and express it intentionally.
One of the most powerful things you can do for your child is to express your emotions in a congruent manner. If you brush over your feelings as though they are unimportant that is what your child will learn to do. You are a model and a guide.
Children are intrinsically intuitive and in touch with biofields, especially that of their caregivers. When you are experiencing a strong emotion, your child will feel it in their body as well. When you are feeling that emotion and label it, your child will now have made the neural connection between that feeling and the label, even though he or she did not directly feel it. Furthermore, the child will now be able to recognize that emotion in someone else. Once you begin to consistently implement this strategy do not be surprised if your child learns to label your emotions before they are even fully formed into expressive behaviors.
Now if you add meaningful self-regulation strategies you will have planted the seeds of nurturance to an empowered child who has blossoming emotional regulation skills. When you are feeling those big emotions, begin by labeling them, “Wow, I feel so overwhelmed right now” and then engage in an action that will help you become emotionally aware. This action will be different for everyone and you can find what works best for you through experimentation. Personally, I take deep breaths, shake my hands out, or ask for a hug.
Breaking it Down
Learn how to identify a feeling (Remember to do this for ALL emotions, positive and negative)
- Label feelings for your child
- “You look sad right now”
- “Your clenched fists show me that you are feeling angry”
- “Your wide grin shows me you feel happy right now”
Learn how to articulate that feeling
- Ask questions
- “How does that make you feel”
- “What are you feeling in your body right now?”
- Label, Label, Label!
- Find new words to describe familiar emotions. You want your child to understand that there is a difference between happiness and ecstatic joy. You also want children to recognize that they can feel more than one emotion at a time.
Learn how to integrate that feeling and allow it to be a source of empowerment
- Model self-regulation strategies
- Ask the child what they could do to make themselves feel better
Common self-regulation strategies
- Give yourself a tight squeeze
- Massage your arms or legs
- Take deep breaths
- Take deep lion breaths
- Stomp your feet and shake your hands out
- Think of something you are grateful for
When you show up for yourself, when you find attunement between your feelings, behaviors, and words, you are showing up for your child and modeling how he or she can do so independently in the future.