When both children and adults experience some type of stress, it often ends with an emotional outburst – sometimes from kids, and sometimes from parents, too. When it comes to these emotional meltdowns, who has the control – parents or kids? To find that answer, let’s look at a little research on brain development.
Our brains are an important organ in the development of regulating our emotions, feelings, and decisions. In fact, the human brain is not fully developed until we are into our early 20’s. This means that the earliest, most primitive portions of the brain are more readily activated than other parts of our brain – those responsible for helping us to make good decisions about how best to express our emotions.
Babies communicate their needs through emotion all the time. If we hear a baby cry, we anticipate the need may mean hunger, tiredness, or even a diaper change is in order. As we age, our verbal skills allow for us to tell others what we need. And finally, when we have the entire brain working, we can use communication along with other coping skills to manage our ever-increasing emotions. Ultimately, this means that our kids don’t have the emotional self-control skills that parents do. Now this may be hard to hear, but as the adults in the situation, that means we have to take control of our emotions.
Sometimes parents need help calming down, too. The need to slow down and even breathe, then talk, allows us to re-regulate. When we feel overwhelmed with emotion, the decisions we make in those moments may not be as clear or satisfactory, as when we have given ourselves permission to step back and take some time to think. Our body needs time to get re-regulated after a big emotional outburst.
On the podcast this week, we discuss the importance of self-regulation (or emotional self-control), and reveal some research highlighting the long-term benefits of regulatory self-control.
All of us have big feelings from time to time. It is during those times that we may need to use our STOP, BREATHE, TALK approach. Parents and kids, it is helpful to slow down when you feel those big emotions. Let your body get regulated and then reach back out to one another and communicate!
You can subscribe to us on any podcasting app to tune in to our weekly episode, or keep an eye on Facebook or Twitter to make sure you stay caught up. Our next time LIVE on Facebook will be April 30 at 12:15 p.m.