How Trying To Be Calm Gets In The Way Of Regulation

Your child is emotionally escalating in front of you and starts to scream.  Now imagine that this is happening in a public place where others can hear and possibly see what is happening.  If you’re honest with yourself, you don’t feel calm inside when this happens!  Inside you’re likely feeling some degree of anxiety, helplessness, embarrassment, or maybe even anger towards your child.  Likely you have an urge inside to calm your child down and make the screaming stop.  These urges and feelings in you are what you’re supposed to be feeling based on the information you’re experiencing- your nervous system is saying hello to your child’s nervous system and you’re feeling their activation. You are also registering the situation as challenging. , Yet, you’ve been told that somehow you need to stay very calm while all of this is happening. How is that possible when inside you also feel like screaming?

There are a few important things that happen when we try to look calm when we actually are not feeling calm.  The first is we are likely thinking that if the child simply sees us look calm, then that is enough.  The problem with this is that it potentially activates one of the clues the brain is scanning for indicating that things are not safe, because things are incongruent. This  can lead to further escalation.  Our brains look for things that don’t make sense, because incongruence is actually registered as a potential threat!  So when we’re feeling one way and pretending to look a different way on the outside, we don’t make sense.  Children are smart, intuitive and they know when we aren’t telling the truth. Like it or not, children can  read our body language and non-verbal cues, listen to the changes in our voice and track to see if our emotional affect makes sense. 

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- - Volume: 10 - WEEK: 31 Date: 7/27/2022 9:41:40 AM -