Thoughtful Parenting: Parenting with Intuition
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
Our children learn to manage emotions and stress by watching their parents. Let’s take a deep breath. That’s a lot of pressure. No, I am not saying you must be perfect so your children will grow up well adjusted. It’s important for parents to express a full range of emotions around their children.
Children learn by watching us. When they see us stuff our sadness and smile, they learn the unspoken message that being sad is not OK. When we are sad, and we express it in front of our children and then regulate our nervous system, our children learn that it’s OK to be sad, and they learn what to do when they are sad. The amazing part is that this can be done in less than a minute.
The hard part is that it will require us to slow down and tune into our own intuition. In the beginning, this may feel awkward and hard, but I promise that it gets more intuitive as you practice. When you practice these skills, start with mild emotions and then slowly work up to more intense ones. Emotions are energy in motion: Does the energy in your body need to calm down or wake up? Follow these steps to regulate through emotions.
Step 1: Awareness
• What sensations do you feel in your body? Numb, tense, stuck or buzzing? Is there a lot of energy or no energy?
• What is your breath like? Hard to breathe in? Fast breath in? Is it deep or shallow?
Step 2: Express/label
• Allow your body to express the energy (i.e. discharge the message being sent). Release the energy, move your legs, stand up, wiggle, open and close your hands. If there is no energy or numbness, notice how low your energy is without fighting or judging it.
• Name what is happening in your body, either out loud or to yourself. For example, “I am so tense.” “I can’t feel my legs.” “It’s hard to take a deep breath in;” etc.
Step 3: Regulate
• Shift the sensations and energy by creating the opposite, a moving body needs to slow down, a numb body needs to feel sensation. What does your body need to calm down or wake up?
• Regulate your breath: long exhale to calm down, deep inhale to wake up. End with even inhale and exhale.
Sophie Berkley is a licensed professional counselor specializing in helping children and families heal and thrive. If you are interested in a free Nervous System Guide or in learning more about her parenting classes and coaching visit SophieBerkley.com/groupclasses.
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Work to form a new strategic plan for the Steamboat Springs School District will start next week with the first sessions of a listening tour aimed at getting broad community feedback.