I am currently reading a new book by Dr. Jodi Carrington called, “Kids These Days”. This Canadian author covers a lot of fascinating material about why kids do what they do. I really appreciated a whole chapter devoted to kids with a trauma history, including foster children. She says that the most important thing that we will ever teach our kids is to help them understand how to regulate their emotions. Without that, children cannot learn very well. The catch, however, is that a child cannot learn to regulate their emotions until they experience dis-regulation. So, part of every child’s story includes times of dis-regulation and this is normal. When this happens, the role of the adult is to model for them how to regulate those big feelings. This pattern must repeat itself throughout their childhood many times, in order for the child to acquire self-regulation.

One way to understand dis-regulation is known as “Flipping Your Lid”. Dr. Daniel Siegel is a clinical professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine. Dr. Siegel has developed a simple way to explain what the brain does when dis-regulation occurs. It you have a few minutes, watch this short video of Dr. Siegel showing how he teaches children about what their brain is doing when they become upset.

Learning about emotional regulation and how our brain works is important. This knowledge is somewhat new and has emerged over the past decade or so. My hope is that if we can raise the next generation to be aware of how to regulate their emotions and solve problems, we won’t see the aggression and violence in our world that we have seen. We can teach our kids a better way and I invite you to learn as much as you can about emotional regulation as we journey this road together with our kids.

Dale Martens

in: General