Friday, April 26, 2013

Emotional Regulation

Emotional Regulation is something we talk about a lot in Early Childhood Education.  

I teach about it.

It is an important life skill.

 It can be defined like this:
Emotion regulation refers to a person’s ability to understand and accept his or her emotional experience, to engage in healthy strategies to manage uncomfortable emotions when necessary, and to engage in appropriate behavior (e.g., attend classes, go to work, engage in social relationships) when distressed.People with good emotion regulation skills are able to control the urges to engage in impulsive behaviors, such as self-harm, reckless behavior, or physical aggression, during emotional distress.
I have had to think about "emotional regulation" several times in the last week of so.

About my own emotions. 

I have been like a yo-yo.

0-100 in a minute.

More and more, as I age and mature, I am able to read an email, or get a phone call or have an interaction with someone that makes me spitting mad and NOT react....immediately.  

Most of the time.  

I got a work email last night that sent me instantly into orbit.  I was f u r i o u s.  Defiant.  Ready to take heads off verbally.

But instead of engaging I send a placating email to one party and calmly requested meetings with the other party.  

I am still mad.  Still completely resolved to win this battle.  But my emotions are a little simmered down today.

In the last week or so I had emotional regulation beautifully modeled for me by these two buddies actually......

On the way to the ferry to Strathcona David was breathing in and huffing out his breath.  He did that a few times and I asked what he was doing.  "Just breathing out my anxiety" he says calmly.  I asked if he was ok.  He said "I am fine...just have some nervous energy to get out".

Wow... way to know how you are feeling, and know how to manage.....at 13.....with a big adventure about to unfold.  

I think he and I will be huffing together at the airport in December.

On Monday the beautiful Miss P and her gorgeous brother Mr P were over for a few hours.  They are both a little under the weather.  Miss P is a bright little girl and she knows something is up.  Her house is filling up with boxes.  Her Dad was just away for a few weeks. She knows she is going "far far away" but she doesn't really know what exactly is happening.

In the 3 hours she was with us she played happily, we blew bubbles, threw the ball for Spanner, ate pizza, went for a walk in the sun...... but every little while she would look at me with those baby blues and they would well up and her little lip would start to quiver....... "I    want    my    Mommy"  she would say from a tight throat.  I scooped her up and held her tight and promised her Mommy and Daddy would be back very soon and that I loved her. 

And she held on.  

Such a masterful display of emotional regulation. 

I am sure she wanted to fling that blonde head back and give full vent to her anxiety and anger and sadness.....

But she held on.  

Going through that with her tested my emotional regulation too.....I couldn't possibly love her more but in that moment I was so very proud of her. 

I know there will be many times she gives full vent to her emotions, as she should.  And those moments will likely be reserved for her parents, as they should for in them is all her security.

I think my emotional regulation may be breached when that UHaul rolls out of town with this precious family.

So I have taken the lessons of these two and I will try and do them proud.

Today.

Everyday.

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