Self Regulation Comes First

Feelings and emotions, Self regulation, Tips & Tools

Contributed by Jody McVittie, MD.

You can probably remember the last time you were talking to your child knowing that your child was not taking in everything you said.  Sometimes we adults just say too much.  Why? Probably because we care. We want to make sure our children are well-behaved, don’t hurt others and we want to protect them from future embarrassment, disappointment and failures.  And … maybe we want to protect ourselves too – from our embarrassment or sense of failure.

With all these good intentions why don’t our children listen? Maybe it is for the same reason that …

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Making Space for Awareness

Self regulation, Self-care, Tips & Tools
Ever have one of those evenings where you go to bed and wonder where the day went wrong? You know that the kids were not on their best behavior but also have the sinking feeling inside that you weren’t the exactly best role model either. It can be uncomfortable to admit that despite your best efforts you aren’t always the parent you want to be. Most of us have parenting moments like that – where the parent who can listen, or set clear limits, or be patient has disappeared some where and this other human being shows up to take our place. Ick.
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Weaving Threads of Resilience

Connection and love, Self regulation, Tips & Tools
Stories. What do stories have to do with resilience? The stories we know about ourselves and the stories we know about our family make a big difference. Our sense of connection to our inter-generational family helps us moderate the impact of stress. Weaving your own family narrative, it turns out, may not only increase the resilience and happiness in your own family but may mean that your family may thrive for generations to come.
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Growing Resilience: Mastering Adversity

Connection and love, Feelings and emotions, Self regulation, Tips & Tools
As weird as it may sound, our children need to experience adversity to grow resilience. The sense of mastery that grows within a child having overcome challenges is one of their biggest sources of resilience. As parents we interrupt many of the opportunities our children have to develop mastery because we lose the distinction between danger (where it is our job to secure safety) and pain (where there is an opportunity for learning.) The drawers in my family medical office were fun to play with because they felt so good when they moved in and out. My young patients loved that feel so much I made sure that there was one drawer that held things that would not harm a child. Even though I okayed drawer play, parents often reacted quickly when their toddlers started pulling and pushing on the drawers for fear that their child might pinch some fingers.
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Bullying and Our Culture

Growing Responsibility, Mutual Respect, Self regulation, Tips & Tools
Adults sometimes use power to change someone’s behavior by humiliating them or scaring them. There is an implicit assumption that the person is not already doing the best they can at the moment, that somehow they don’t care and that fear and shame will be helpful motivators. This is craziness. We know from brain science that when we are threatened our ability to learn new things shuts down. Athletes and talented technology workers are there because they want to be there. They dream of being on the “A” team, and are working hard to improve performance. Is the bullying really helping? And, as a culture we buy into this. There is little public outrage at the very public bullying we (and our children) see on television. What are our children learning?
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Self-regulation Matters

Self regulation, Tips & Tools
But she KNOWS better! Why does she act this way? How many times have you thought this, said it or listened to another parent share their frustration this way? And when you reflect on it, how many times have you noticed, reflecting back on one of your not-so-wonderful parenting moments that indeed YOU knew better? Join the club.
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