Help with Emotional Regulation.

In this blog post I talk about emotional regulation.  We have struggled this half term with all of our children's emotions but particularly with Bass's and his difficulty to emotionally self-regulate.  So often his emotions are up and down and it is hard to manage.
Professor Steve Peters is a fantastic consultant psychiatrist who specialises in the function of the brain and in today's video chat I talk about his 10 Helpful Habits, which he formed to help parents help their children manage their emotions, thinking and behaviour. 
This chat helped me as much as (I hope) the group members who listened!

Here is a synopsis of my video chat this morning: 

Who is Professor Steve Peters? 
Professor Steve Peters is a consultant psychiatrist and he has worked both in the NHS and privately.  Most notably he's worked with top professional athletes such as Victoria Pendleton, Chris Hoy and most recently Ronnie O'Sullivan.  He has helped them manage their emotions, thinking and behaviour in really high pressured situations and it can't be denied that the people he's worked with have been pretty successful so his chat is definitely worth listening to!

What has he written?
He has written a book called The Chimp Paradox and an equivalent book for children called My Hidden Chimp.  I encourage you to read them both!
What's his main chat?
Ok so I'm going to try and keep this simple.  We have a brain (obvs!) and our brain helps us do all sorts of things (again obvs!).  In our brain there is a part for thinking and there are two parts to the thinking part of our brain.  Still with me?!
Prof. Steve Peters calls the two different parts in our thinking brain blue and red for simplicity.  We have a blue brain and a red brain.  He calls the red brain our ‘chimp’ brain because in a chimpanzee's brain they have a very large red brain bit.  We can control the blue brain but we can't control the red brain! If our blue brain is in control we are happy and if the red brain is in control we are upset.
Steve Peters likes to stress:
“All the feelings we get are normal.  Some are not helpful, but everybody gets them from their red brain.”
Our chimp brain takes over when we lie, are mean, anxious, worried, grumpy or angry.  So when our children can't regulate their emotions their chimp brain is taking over.  However, Peters likes to also stress we can look after our chimp brain and learn to manage it (thank goodness!)
I want to stress that everybody has a chimp part of their brain (children, teenagers, adults) and it's not necessarily a good or bad thing - it's just there.  It can stop you doing what you need to do and get in the way of good behaviour so we just need to learn to manage it but it can also help us know when we feel in danger.  We can choose who we listen to - our blue brain or our red brain.
So Prof. Steve Peters came up with 10 helpful habits to help children understand and manage their emotions, thinking and behaviour and here they are:
Professor Steve Peter's 10 Healthy Habits
1 Smiling
Yes. Smiling works.  Smiling will make you and your child feel happier - even when you don't want to smile!  Peters encourages you to think about something good, something funny or something you like.  But he says, if your child is too sad to smile, first they need to be open about it and tell someone, take their time and decide when they want to smile but then smile. You could ask your child to make a happiness list here.
2 Saying Sorry
Peters encourages our children to learn to say sorry.  Saying sorry will simply make them feel better.  It is good for them to apologise immediately or when they realise they have done something wrong.  The act of saying sorry will stop the red brain worrying about something they have done wrong.  You could ask your child to think of 2 reasons why they might not want to apologise and then talk about these points.
3 Be Kind
Being kind will make your children feel good.  Encourage your child to ask!  Is there something I can do for you?  Encourage your child to do practical things around the house to help you.  Remember children like to be kind but they just forget sometimes.  Make a list of things your child could do for others - it doesn't have to be chores.
4 Talk about your feelings
I think this one is really important.  Being open and honest and talking about our feelings helps them and us.  It helps because it helps you and your child to understand them. You might want talk about your feelings more than once. Our Support Conversation Cards would work nicely here.
5 Ask for help
Encourage your child that once they realise they can't work something out - ask for help.  Asking for help is good because we can learn from others and we can get things done more quickly.  Ask your child if they are finding anything tricky at the moment.
6 Showing good manners
Being polite will make your child feel good.  Pleasing someone else by being polite makes you and your child feel good.  It makes them feel good about themselves and it shows that they're not selfish.
7 Try new things
It's really good to try new things and this is really good for your child's morale and self-esteem .  They could try new foods, a new sport or activity, a challenge or a new group.  Remind your child that trying new things can be scary but really good.
8 Accepting when no means no
Children really struggle with this concept!  Our chimp brain often doesn't accept when no means no but we can manage and train it to.  Finding something else for your child do can help. 
9 Learning to share
Sharing stops us being selfish.  When we share things we are looking after those we love and making them happy.  When we share things we make friends.  Encourage your child that the first thing they need to think about is someone else and not themselves.
10 Doing what you have to do
Whether your child likes it or not!  These might be things like making your bed, getting dressed for school, going to bed at night - there are many!  Your child will feel good when they are being sensible and making everyone happy.
So there you go!  
We need to remind our children they have a choice - they can either be their chimp or themselves.  Professor Steve Peter's says it is good to let our feelings out, but it is important to do this in the right way and in the right place.
Sometimes our chimp brain takes over and we have to sometimes have to stop our chimp brain from speaking and behaving badly and Professor Steve Peters has come up with this 3 step approach:
Step 1: Tell it to stop.
Step 2: Say sorry to whoever you have upset.
Step 3: Try and do something nice.
I really hope this has been helpful.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published