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#1 Parenting Skill to Break the Cycle of Child Behavior Meltdowns

Do you wake up at 3 in the morning resolving to be more patient “tomorrow”?

And then, the next day that here we go again feeling comes and your resolve fails. You find yourself back in the vicious cycle: Try harder. Fail. Feel guilty. Rinse. Repeat. And it sucks!

Here’s the thing. I would bet you are already trying REALLY hard! What if becoming more responsive and less reactive as a parent didn’t come from more will? What if it came from more skill?!

We baby humans come in hardwired for relationship. We develop the “software” for emotional resilience based on our interactions and experiences with the primary relationship(s) we are met with. Regulation skills develop through brain to brain connection, not only or even primarily with words.

That’s why we can only truly teach our children emotional regulation from a place of our own self regulation.

Stick with me here…

In the midst of a meltdown, the person you need to focus most on regulating is yourself. (While prioritizing safety, of course.) I know how this can go against every fiber of your being in those button-pushing moments!

Don’t get me wrong. I am NOT saying that you shouldn’t help your child. I am saying that your state of regulation will determine how well you are able to help your child!

Today I want to share an empowering strategy for building the #1 essential parenting skill - self-regulation. In the same way learning to balance is the first skill needed to ride a bike, learning to notice the here we go again feeling is the first step to building your essential parenting skill of self-regulation.

Here’s a short exercise to strengthen this skill.

Think about a recent incident with your child and ask yourself the following questions:

1. “How did I know I had the here we go again feeling?

2. “What did I notice in my body? My breath? My thoughts? Did I feel something in my gut, my shoulders, my head, or my left foot? Did my heart speed up? Was it hard to breathe? What were the thoughts I was having?"

The here we go again feeling shows up differently for each of us. That’s why it’s so important to identify your own personal clues.

Here are a few examples:

1. For me, my brain speeds up. The space between my thoughts and my words decreases, I start talking a lot and my words feel disconnected from my body.

2. One dad told me that for him it feels like resignation and he withdraws.

3. Jen’s here we go again feeling starts with her fists clenching at the first sign of challenging behavior from her kiddo, a while before the full meltdown actually happens.

What happens for you?

>>Here's a quick tip for a quick win with parenting.

Got that Here We Go Again feeling? Hit the BRAKES, not the gas!<<

In the same way caution signs warn us to brake, noticing your body’s specific, concrete here we go again clues tell you to SLOW DOWN. Putting the brakes on your reactivity, gives you the space to employ regulating strategies.

As you keep practicing, you’ll get better at noticing those “clues” when the here we go again feeling hits you. This will allow you to make choices - like pausing, breathing or taking a step back - to stay more regulated and therefore, more available for loving connection with your child. You’ll find that you feel more in control of your parenting choices.

With this parent-centric approach, you hold the power to break the vicious cycles with your child. Rather than trying to control their behavior from a place of reacting, you’ll be able to influence their behavior by responding with loving connection for lasting change.

(Click the image below if you're tired of hearing, "No!")

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