As parents, we want our children to be able to regulate their emotions and respond to stress in a healthy way. Taking a proactive approach to behavior can make your life a whole lot easier, and that begins with you. Let’s talk about why it’s important to model the behavior you desire.
Parenting is our most important job, although it may also receive the least amount of time to strategize and think proactively. Our initial response to stress–whether it’s with our children or otherwise–is not always the best response. Before focusing on how our children behave, we need to first ask ourselves if we can modify our own behavior during stress. Our relationship with our children is one of the most important we will have, and it is crucial that we respond to them with emotional stability.
Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Ericka Smith, has designed a course for parents to help them take a proactive approach to dealing with stress in the moment. This course sets parents up for success by planning for their responses to triggering scenarios at home before they happen. “We have to deal with our kids on our emotional level and not get swept up into theirs,” Smith says. In other words, parents should be a thermostat, not a thermometer. This nine-week coaching course is a no judgment zone that offers solutions to problems that every parent faces.
Smith emphasizes the role modeling plays in how our children learn. Getting control of our own emotional responses is one of the most important lessons we will teach a child, as they inadvertently will display the behavior they see modeled. This will help you refrain from delivering momentous consequences or losing control completely. Smith advises modeling emotional regulation out loud: stating how you are feeling or what you should have done shows a child self-reflection and emotional awareness. This is especially necessary if we have reacted in an unhealthy way. Merely stating, “I was frustrated. What I should have done was…” shows your child how we can reflect on our own emotional state and choose our behaviors, rather than being controlled by them.
We all want our children to be emotionally aware, thoughtful individuals, both now and in the future. But we can’t expect our children to discipline their reactions until we can discipline ours. Our children deserve our best, and we do too.
Watch Ericka’s full video interview here!