Co-regulation is essential for any relationship, especially the parent-child relationship.
We all become dysregulated sometimes. This happens when the demands of the environment exceed our ability to deal with them in a calm, skillful manner at that moment in time.
When someone we love is upset, there are essentially three different responses we can give them.
1) Take on their emotions and get swept along with them.
2) Attempt to ignore the feelings, invalidating and minimizing them, or pretending the feelings don’t even exist.
3) Offer comfort and co-regulation: be the anchor in their storm, so to speak.
We provide co-regulation for a distressed loved one when our tone, body language, facial expressions, and words all convey calm, comfort, and safety.
Our role as adults is to pour water on their fire, by keeping our cool, rather than fuelling their emotions with our own.
When we send children away, we are communicating through our actions that we don’t accept them when they are dysregulated, and they will be left to cope with intense emotions alone.
Children’s internal experiences are inextricably linked to their sense of self.
When we co-regulate with our children, we show them we will keep them safe and continue to love and support them, even when their feelings are big and intense.
When we are heard, understood, and cared for this helps us feel safe. Feeling safe allows us to express, process, and work through our emotions.
It is natural for our nervous system to respond when someone is acting aggressively or expressing intense feelings.
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