Stop the Stress CycleApr 08, 2022
Stop the Stress Cycle
Pressing Pause on the Stress Response with Co-Regulation- Why making time for wellbeing matters.
Stress is something everyone experiences. It’s often an inevitable part of our lives. Throw in kids, pets and partners into the mix it’s no wonder we can sometimes feel like the hamster wheel is never ending!
Our bodies are designed to cope with stress but not on an ongoing basis – this is where the issues happen. Have you ever felt like the little things that usually feel like easy to manage ripples can sometimes feel like all consuming tsunami waves that have you crashing unceremoniously onto the ocean floor?
We get it. We’ve been there too. Daniel Siegal’s book ‘The Whole Brain Child’ is one of our favourites at Calmer Kids HQ. His explanation of ‘Flipping the Lid’ explains why sometimes our reactions can be a lot sharper than others:
You’ve heard the saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ many times and in many contexts. Well, the same goes for the stress cycle. Unfortunately, we cannot stop the stress response. Murray et al defines Co-regulation as “warm and responsive interactions that provide the support, coaching and modelling children need to understand, express and modulate their thoughts, feelings and behaviours.” So how do we do this? How can we be the calm port for our kids when we ourselves are feeling the effects of the storm?!
The reality is, the more stressed we are, the sharper our reactions and the less tolerant we are to our kids. Crying, tantrums, arguments are all part of kids learning social skills. Just like I can’t expect my 5 month puppy to not bounce around and act like a loon at times, we can’t expect our kids to not have meltdowns and overwhelm. It’s inevitable and is going to happen! What we do have to do though, is manage our reactions to it. Co-regulation is absolutely key if we want to prevent those waves from getting bigger.
Dr Brenda Heyworth’s book ‘It’s a Jungle’ is an incredible (and very easy to read) parent guide explains that “bad behaviour comes when an emotion is bigger than a child can handle.” As parents, carers and teachers, our job is to not ‘Step into the jungle’ but to use our emotional regulation to help be the calm port for their ship in the crazy storm. Easier said than done though right?! Anyone who’s had a child tantrum and scream at them knows how hard it is!
Knowing where to start can be really hard and overwhelming – especially when we are putting other people’s needs before our own! The juggle can be constant. This is why regular, easy to use tools and routines for the whole family to learn are so important. Through learning self-regulation strategies such as ‘Five Finger Breathing’, ‘Belly Breathing’ or calming yoga poses, our families become equipped to deal with the punches than can metaphorically (and sometimes in reality!) get thrown.
Integrating easy routines into daily life supports us and our families. They can make the difference between the waves being easy to hop over ripples, or them feeling like all-consuming tsunami waves. For students in Grade 4, the last time school was ‘normal’ was Grade 1…! As families, we have been juggling for a long time now and our ‘Window of Tolerance’ (more on that next month) has been made smaller and smaller.
This month’s tips:
- Make a commitment to yourself today. What regular tool/routine could you introduce that could help you to be the ‘calm port’ in the storm for your child?
- Next time the emotions are heightened, what tools could you use to help regulate yourself and therefore help your child to co-regulate?
Calmer Kids Onine Membership has you covered with integrating these tools. Designed to fit into busy schedules, you can use it in a number of ways. Either doing an activity each day, or try this strategy to start to build wellbeing habits in an easy way:
- Print off the Monthly Overview (see picture below).
- With your child/family, look through the month’s activities and choose 4 activities you want to try this month. Circle them and commit to do one each week. Start small and set yourself up for success.
You can join Calmer Kids Online today for less than a $1 a day:
Jumpstart: Coaching and support to help you and your family thrive
Jumpstart provides tailored support for you to integrate the tools into family routine. Whether you are finding yourself lacking the time to integrate the strategies, or wanting to deepen your understanding of the tools, we have got you covered! Get a personalised plan for your family’s needs to help to maximise the impact and build greater family connection.
Jumpstart can also be used for families who are homeschooling. Learn how the activities link to key curriculum areas and boost your children’s learning and engagement. Jumpstart can also be tailored to include English and Maths tutoring services.
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