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Got The “Here We Go Again” Blues?

That terrible here we go again feeling. You know it well, right? “It” starts and you know where it’s going. Maybe you call it having your buttons pushed, or getting triggered, or a knee jerk reaction. Whatever you call it, the result isn’t pretty and the strategy of wishful thinking (thinking, "Maybe this time will be different") never works. For me, it seemed like no matter how many times I fell asleep at night determined to try harder to be more patient the next day, those heartbreaking power struggles kept happening. I felt like I was hitting my head into a brick wall for years. Try harder. Fail. Feel bad. Rinse. Repeat The thing is, in order for something different to happen, you have to do something different, not just keep trying harder not to react. For a long time I didn’t know how to do something different or even what “different” could be. My relationship with my kids suffered. The good news I learned, that finally turned things around for me, is that emotional regulation, deactivating your triggers, becoming less reactive and more responsive, isn’t a lack of will, it’s a lack of skill. And skills can be learned! And skills can be practiced! Today I want to share Emotional Regulation Skill #1. In the way learning to balance is the first skill needed to learn all the other skills for riding a bike, the skill of noticing and identifying the here we go again feeling in your body is the foundation for implementing other emotional regulation skills. like Stop, Drop, and Breathe, that can be so hard to access in the moment of having your buttons pushed. This skill starts with thinking about a recent incident with your child and asking yourself the following questions.

1. “How did I know I had the here we go again feeling? 2. “What did I notice happening in my body? Where did I feel it? What did it feel like? Did my heart speed up? Was it hard to breathe? Did I feel something in my gut, my shoulders, my head, or anywhere else? At first, you’ll need to look back after the dust settles and identify what you remember about the feelings you had in your body when a recent incident occurred. As you keep practicing, you’ll get better at noticing those concrete “symptoms” in your body when the here we go again feeling first hits you. This will allow you to make choices like pausing, breathing, stepping back a moment so you can stay in control and keep things from escalating into a full blown power struggle. The here we go again feeling shows up differently in different people. That’s why it’s so important to identify your own experience of it. Here are a couple 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 way before the incident with a negative thought about her kid. Then, she remembered that during the incident her fists started clenching at the first sign of challenging behavior from her kiddo, a while before it went to full meltdown. The way caution signs warn us to put the brakes on, noticing your body’s specific, concrete here we go again feelings helps us put the brakes on our reactivity and gives us the chance to employ regulating strategies before an incident escalates. With this parent-centric approach, you hold the power to interrupt and change negative feedback loops with your child. Rather than trying to control and change their behavior, you’ll be modeling the emotional regulation skills they need for good executive function. You’ll stay connected to your child in the process - a recipe for a better relationship. PS: I’ll be practicing with you! Even though my kids are grown, I can still get really triggered by my partner. Same skills needed.

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