The Science of Parenting

What is Self-Regulation? | S.9 Ep. 1

June 02, 2022 Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Season 9 Episode 1
The Science of Parenting
What is Self-Regulation? | S.9 Ep. 1
Show Notes Transcript

In this season opener, the cohosts dive into the topic of regulation and three different kinds of it. Plus, they discuss a crucial strategy for helping our kids regulate themselves.

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Lori Korthals:

Welcome to The Science of Parenting podcast, where we connect you with research based information that fits your family. I'm Lori Korthals, parent of three in two different life stages. Two are launched, and one is still in high school. And I'm a parenting educator.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And I'm Mackenzie Johnson, parent of two littles with their own quirks. And I'm a parenting educator. Today we'll talk about the realities of raising a family, and how research can help guide our parenting decisions. Hey, everybody, welcome again, back to The Science of Parenting podcast. We took a little break. Yes, yes. And it's good to be back. It is just like sharing information. Well, honestly, we like spending time together to put these episodes together. So there's a little self serving, but we have a lot of fun. It is. In this season, our brand new season, we are going to talk about regulation. Yes. And what does that mean? Regulation? Right. And season nine, by the way, nine. Every time it gets bigger.

Lori Korthals:

I know. Two hands are needed. Exactly. Yeah. So this season, we're gonna talk about regulation. And again, most of this season is going to come from a book called The Handbook of Parenting. We have volume five that we're using, called the Practice of Parenting. I love that we can say that there's this handbook, the Handbook of Parenting.

Mackenzie Johnson:

The literal everyone's like, well, you don't get a handout. No, there is one. It's not really targeted for every parent. It's very researchy. But it exists.

Lori Korthals:

It is and thank you, Mark Bornstein, for editing our handbook.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And this season, we get to tap into that chapter in the book called Parenting and Children's Self-Regulation by Dr. Wendy Grolnick and colleagues.

Lori Korthals:

Yeah, awesome. All right. So let's start off explaining what this word regulation means. Okay, I have to just tell you, I know that there is some western movie where the key actor says, regulators ride up or regulators mount up. Every time we say this word regulation, in the back of my mind, I hear this, regulators, mount up.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Well, I am not familiar with that. But I'm glad it brings you joy. Yeah, well, and I'm just like, regulation. We talked about that in previous episodes, but we don't talk about it.

Lori Korthals:

We don't.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So it will be good to dig into this season. So and like always, my favorite thing is for us to look at a definition. And so how do we define? What are we talking about? Like, what are you getting at here? What are you gonna talk about for this many episodes on this word? And so I do want to look at a definition for regulation. But I want us to take a little bit of a different approach. Usually, I find a definition I like and we just share it. This time, we're going to look at a couple of different definitions from a couple of different people. And then we'll just kind of see how that adds to our understanding for each of us.

Lori Korthals:

Sounds good.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I have the first one. So Posner and Rothbart in 2000 defined self regulation as the process of individuals modulating behavior and affect. Yeah, what? Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. So I would say instead of modulating, maybe controlling or affecting or altering your behavior, and yeah, your affect can include your emotions and thoughts. Okay, so sorry. So modulating behavior and affect, but I love this phrase that given the contextual demands, so given a situation. So regulation and their terms are really about aligning how we behave and how we think and how we emit emotions or how we emote. But like behaviors or cognitions and thoughts and emotions, and how we do that in a way that's appropriate to the situation. So it's not just about like, I think sometimes when I think of regulation, I think of temper tantrums, right, you need to regulate your emotions in a way that's appropriate. But it's also this idea of what's expected around us. Yeah, that's what you're regulating. Like, it's not appropriate to act this way here. Yeah, so I really liked that idea of given contextual demands. That's one. You know, I love a term. I love terminology.

Lori Korthals:

And I'm a simple girl. My definition is gonna be short and sweet. Alright, so regulation is then the act of managing thoughts and emotions and that's initiated by yourself. Okay, so one little big word I do like, one big word I do like is the word autonomous. Alright, so that just means like I chose, I chose it. I did it myself. Right? Yeah. So my simple definition is that regulation refers to things that I initiate myself that are thoughts or behaviors.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, you're in charge of it. Yes. I'm in charge. Do it yourself. Yeah. That makes sense. Hence, self regulation.

Lori Korthals:

I initiated it. I did it myself. Thanks.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Got it figured out. Oh, okay. Now, a different one by Murray and colleagues, a different definition says, the act of managing cognition and emotion to enable goal directed actions. Okay, I'll say it again. Okay, the act of managing cognition and emotion. So managing our thoughts and our emotions to enable goal direction, that action. So in my mind, to do something with a goal in mind, right? Like, in order for me to accomplish the goal of communicating effectively, in order for me to accomplish the goal of behaving appropriately in public, so they say it's the act of managing, they specifically your thoughts and your actions, your cognition. And so they give the examples of goal directed actions might be things like organizing your behavior, controlling your impulses, or solving problems constructively.

Lori Korthals:

That's a great idea. Solve your problems constructively.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Constructively. We love that. Yes. So yeah, just a few different definitions, some a little more complicated and looking at different ways of thinking about it, for sure. Well, okay, so which one would you like, align most with you and your understanding your family? Okay, when I think of regulation, I think of more like It is. Absolutely. that first definition. Now, I did not think of the word modulating because I barely know what that means. But so I might say like, aligning is probably the word I like, so aligning our behavior. I probably wouldn't say affect. But I like breaking down like they do when they describe their concept of regulation, they break it down to behavior, emotions, and cognitions. Like any thoughts, so I liked that they break that down that way. But so I might say like, they're aligning those things, given the situation, like I'm gonna align what's appropriate, given where I am, what's expected. Yeah, so I like that first one. I like a little technical, you know, but because I do think, okay, yeah, it's not just emotions that we're regulating. It's not just behavior. It's all these things. Okay. What about you? I have a strong guess, a feeling where you might land.

Lori Korthals:

You're absolutely right. I'm gonna land in the simple version. But I really need to give our writer, Barb Dunn Swanson some credit, because she really helped me think about, you know, the reason I think I gravitate towards this idea of actions initiated by ourself, that's what I think of when I think of regulation. And the reason I think of this, credit to Barb, is the age of my kids. Okay, so my children are older. I really want them to initiate their regulationing. Like I want them to initiate the ability to self regulate themselves. They're older, they're not with me all the time. They are out in public, and they're working full time jobs, some of them are. It's not like I have a whole, like I only have three kids. But because of their age, that simple definition of, you know, actions initiated by the self, that's important for them at this age. Now, when they were younger, I think probably too would have gravitated more towards the definition that you shared. Because as you look at them as younger children, their behavior, their thoughts and their emotions, those are all the parenting questions that we get, right? Why does my child behave this way, think this way, feel this way? Right. And so I think Barb has a really good point to say, our definitions about self regulation could possibly change based on the age of a child and especially because as they grow, they have more life experience. And they have more people to see self regulating. Yeah.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Modeling, yeah.

Lori Korthals:

So they have these more role models to think about, ooh, I don't want to behave that way. Oh, I do want to behave this way. And so yeah, super great point that she made.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, well, and I mean, to add to it, yes, the idea of control, right, like you're in charge of this, you can choose this. That makes total sense. And I might also add that because they've maybe gotten better already at regulating emotions and thoughts and behaviors, that it is focused more on the control aspect of it. Because the internal part, they hopefully are better at by the time they're teens, adults, yada, yada. Yeah, like, all of it. Yes to all of it.

Lori Korthals:

Lots of definitions. We just gave ourselves permission to believe more than one definition. Yes.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, my gosh, that's a pluralistic approach, Lori. We love to say there's more than one way to do something, including more than one way to raise great kids. There's more than one way to define regulation.

Lori Korthals:

Yeah. So okay, no matter how we define regulation, you know, self regulation, essentially, it can refer to any behavior, any emotion that a person exhibits. And essentially, we're doing those as a response to what's happening around us. Okay. So I really think the idea of talking about behavior, our thoughts and our emotions, can be helpful to parents. I think about those are three things that we want our children to learn to self regulate, so they're going to need our help, as they learn. Lots of times, we think about self regulation, we

Mackenzie Johnson:

And I think breaking it down, right, let's look at these examples of what does it look like to regulate think about behaviors. So the more we read this chapter, the behavior? What does it look like to regulate cognition, right? more I thought, gosh, you know, we are also regulating our Like, what does it look like to regulate your thoughts? It's thoughts. And so I'll cover that second section, this idea of, we like, can I? Yes, you actually do. Yeah. All right. And then versus emotion. And so I'll start with behavior. Okay, so ways that we regulate our behavior, right? I might not feel like doing these things all the time. But I regulate when I choose to follow the rules, right? When I choose to pay attention to what's happening in front of me, right? Even like in a meeting, I regulate my behavior because I'm supposed to listen to this. And I don't feel like it. And even things like temptation and impulses, that's behavior, right? As I think of can regulate and hold information while we process, the marshmallow test, some of you have maybe heard of this before. So you put a young kid in a room with a marshmallow on the table, and you tell them, if you don't eat this right now, when I come back, you can have more than one marshmallow, or right? We've got these things in our memory. We can resist you'll get some kind of reward. Can the child resist the impulse to eat that marshmallow sitting right in front of them when that distractions, we can stay focused, but at the same time, adult leaves the room? Right? That's behavior regulation. So resisting a temptation, and I think with our older kids, teens, I mean, let's be honest, like sexual behavior, right? There's impulses, there's temptation with things that look cool with their friends or like a risky behavior, right, should I jump off the bridge with my friends, right? And all these different things. When we regulate our behavior, we align it with the expectations around us. And so those are just a few examples. Following rules and things like resisting temptation and impulse. we can be flexible and shift our attention to different things. And so another great example from Barbara Reiter was, you know, we know that it's so important that children spend time out in nature. Our research tells us that going out in nature, it really allows our brain to shift and do the work, right, because when we're out in nature, it allows our brain to take some time to relax and enjoy and refocus so that when we go back into the classroom, say we just had recess, then we can pay attention to those math problems. We can shift and be flexible in our thinking, and at the same time, resist distractions. That's self regulation. That's what we're talking about this whole season, regulations, also about thinking how do we regulate what we think? And I even think, I think, I think, I'm thinking, I'm thinking, thinking about thinking, the way our kids are when they study for a test in high school. One of the things they talked about in this chapter was working memory. Essentially, I keep this piece of information where I can access it easily. Yes. And so when you study, when our kids study, they're regulating their thoughts, right? The way that they learn, the way that they take information. And so like attitude learning, those are all cognitive things.

Lori Korthals:

Yes, yes. Okay, what about emotional regulation?

Mackenzie Johnson:

So I have young children so I think about this a lot. Right. And so one of the terms they use is arousal. So like emotional arousal of how strongly this emotion comes on, right, the kind of intensity. But when we regulate our emotions, we can maybe tamper that, we can slow it down a little bit. You know, they also talk about inhibiting or initiating emotions, but essentially giving ourselves permission to say, you know what, it is okay for me to cry, it is okay to laugh here, or it is not okay to laugh here. Yeah. And so that ability to kind of control those emotions and something else they talked about, that as our team kind of discussed, this idea of avoiding emotion. And now sometimes people are like, no, no, no, don't avoid emotion. But actually, there are times that can be appropriate. You know, one example that Barb gave was like, when you're really excited, let's say, your team wins the championship game, right? And they still need to go through and slap hands and be a good sport. And you can't do the full celebration yet, because you haven't done that yet. And so in that way, you're avoiding the emotion, right? I'm going to hold that for a moment. Or I'm going to hold out crying.

Lori Korthals:

This is me.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I need to hold on. I'm not going to cry yet. This is not the appropriate time. And so sometimes it's avoiding the emotion. But I would say adding the caveat, temporarily. Yeah, I'm not gonna feel this yet. Now's not the time to feel it. Yes. And so those things are emotion regulation. Helping our kids learn it's not appropriate yet, or it's not appropriate here, or that expression of it is not appropriate here. And all those things are how we regulate, right? How much we're gonna feel something, letting ourself kind of get that feeling out? Or, you know, they talk about inhibit or initiate. Yes, it's okay to feel those things, but regulating them a little bit. Yeah, help us. And I would also add, I've been learning a lot about this idea of feeling your feelings. Have you heard this? Like having the physical sensation of your feelings? That's a really good emotion regulation practice. So like, when I feel nervous, I feel jittery in my hands. When I feel nervous, right, or when I feel excited, or happy or sad. And so that's another one that is a way that we regulate our emotions.

Lori Korthals:

Yes, I love those.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, yeah. And so I like this breakdown of the behavior, the cognition and the emotion. I like this a little better. You know, in the research on regulation, there are some, I mean, I love a term, but these terms in particular when it comes to regulation, they get muddy for me. If you're familiar with regulation at all, you maybe have heard or maybe if your child has a special needs diagnosis, certain aspects of regulation might be what you talk about a little more, this term called executive functioning, which kind of has to do with planning and organizing, as I understand it. But then there's also effortful control. There's also compliance, and so there are a lot of subtypes of regulation. We aren't going to really get into them this season.

Lori Korthals:

No. Absolutely.

Mackenzie Johnson:

It's cool, but it's a little overwhelming. And so we want to focus a little more on the practical side of regulation. How do we do it? How do we encourage it? How do we model it? And so we choose this behavior, cognition, emotion breakdown, rather than the accurate but technical words.

Lori Korthals:

Yes, yes. Yes. And they're simpler, right? Yeah.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I think it's simpler.

Lori Korthals:

Yes. Okay, so I like one word that you said was this idea of aligning and controlling. So that speaks to me, but can you give me a time when you were maybe helping teach or align, helping your child to align to a specific type of regulation? Did you think of any while we were working through this chapter? And you may not have realized what you were doing at the time.

Mackenzie Johnson:

To a certain type of regulation. Okay, so I want to do an emotion that we don't always dig so much into when we think of regulation. My very perceptive daughter notices all these things, the emotion of curiosity. Oh, yes. And so it embarrasses me when she's curious about something she notices about other people. Right, right. Um, and sometimes it's something that's sensitive, right? Sure. And so, sometimes I need her to regulate the emotion of curiosity by instead of thinking that's weird, thinking that's different than I expected. Yes. Oh, like that. Right. Okay, so I guess that's kind of cognition, though. It is. That's cognitive, right? The way she's thinking about it instead of that's weird, that's different than I expected, or that's different than I'm used to. Okay, so that's a cognitive. Okay, I think this example might fit all.

Lori Korthals:

That's okay. There are no rules. We make up our rules. This our podcast.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Okay. So cognitively, with curiosity, I help her regulate that by helping her flip that kind of attitude about it. Okay, so that's one way I teach cognitive regulation, I guess. Um, and then I don't know whether this is emotion or behavior, but teaching her that, instead of pointing out, why does that person blank? Teaching her you can always ask me. If you're not sure, you can always ask me. But wait until a time when you can ask me that and I'm the only one that hears it. Whether that's if you can whisper in my ear right now. Sometimes I'm not the only one who hears that though because it's a loud whisper but yes, anyway, helping her learn instead of just blurting out the things she's curious about or that she notices is helping her regulate that, like, you know, what, if I'm noticing something, I can ask my mom or ask my dad, but I can ask that adult but just so they hear. So it's not loud to everybody. So I think that's kind of both. Curiosity is an emotion that I don't always think of as an emotion. But no, that's great.

Lori Korthals:

Yes.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Okay. What about you? I feel like I did not follow your rules of your question.

Lori Korthals:

Oh, no, that's all right.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, like a certain type of regulation and how you've taught it?

Lori Korthals:

Yeah. So I feel like I don't want to give away the end of our example for a strategy. So I think I'll save that little story because it ties right into the strategy we're going to share. But you know, for one of my daughters emotions are difficult in both directions, right. So, with her diagnosis, what we know about the diagnosis is that this particular diagnosis, they feel emotions in such a really big way. Okay, so I spent a lot of time when she was younger, really trying her to learn self regulation strategies to handle how big those emotions felt. Yes. So, you know, really helping her to recognize that those were important feelings but expressing them in such a big way wasn't always appropriate. So as she grew and began to feel more things and more big feelings, what we also know about this diagnosis is that sometimes then, what happens is they shut down completely to stop feeling such emotions.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, like, it's too much. It's overwhelming for my system, right?

Lori Korthals:

Too much system overload. Shut down. Yeah. And so as she's grown, I've had to teach her to express emotions such as, I don't like how this feels. I don't want to feel this way. But, you know, it's okay to say that you feel angry, you feel sad. You don't have to stuff stuff stuff. Because that system is so overstimulated by the emotions, it just automatically, there's no regulation, it shuts down to not feel. Yeah. And so, you know, anxiety, nervousness, those types of things. So it's almost had to be a shift of, okay, first, I had to teach her how to self regulate, and now I'm helping her to self regulate in a different way to be able to also express them.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, yes. And, you know, I was like, it's okay to avoid a little bit, but not stuff and don't feel ever. Yes, exactly. Yeah. And it is, it's a different take. I think even, I mean, obviously we've talked about in a previous episode, the difference between special needs and temperament can be the intensity of that or the longevity of it. But so I even think of parents with really mild children, right? Really emotionally intense, always level, always right here and never expressing more. So it can be about teaching them, that can be regulation, is teaching your kids to say, I don't like that instead of say nothing.

Lori Korthals:

I don't want to play that game right now. Yeah, I'd rather go outside. Yes, yes, it's okay, expressing those. Okay, so we understand what regulation is, right? We have just talked about three different ways that we regulate. So, you know, then how do we help our kids really put this into practice?

Mackenzie Johnson:

So my answer, Lori and I are gonna do two different takes on this. My answer would be the term internalization. Okay. So basically, how do I help my kid regulate themselves, right, instead of me always needing to help them regulate. As they get older, I want them to learn to regulate themselves. Helping them internalize those behaviors, or those thoughts or those emotional practices. And so I would say, right, if I'm trying to help, I think of bedtime. Part of the reason we have a bedtime routine, one, it helps make our lives easier. But I also want my kids to have that practice, when they get older, that they value, even if they don't do the exact checkmarks that they're meeting their basic needs, like brushing their teeth, like getting pajamas on. Like, I can tell you, my daughter needs quiet calm down time, just like I do, before bed, but that she learns those things about herself now so she can regulate that when she's older. So I would say I look for opportunities to help her see the value in these practices. And so our kids are internalizing, so they use this term intrinsic motivation, basically, like I do this because I think it's important, rather than I do this to avoid getting in trouble or to get some kind of reward. And so I think that's really, how do we help our kids learn to regulate, and to do it regularly and to do it themselves? We help them internalize why it's important, right? So like, what are the consequences of actions? How does behaving this way actually meet your own needs better? Right. So I think how we do that is by helping them internalize why it's important.

Lori Korthals:

Absolutely. So we want that, you know, by the time they're preteens, we want them to internalize the need to take a shower on their own, please. Yes. Instead of me having to remind you, right? Yes, yeah, yes. Okay.

Mackenzie Johnson:

They do it because they think I need to take a shower because that's important. Not I need to take a shower because otherwise my parent is going to be on my case. Exactly. That's the difference between internalization.

Lori Korthals:

You did say the word that I'm going to use. Did I? You did. You totally said it. And you said the reason we have a bedtime routine, and I like.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I took it.

Lori Korthals:

And in all honesty, you know, that is not something that we did when my kids were younger, we didn't have a bedtime routine. But what a routine does is, it makes it regular. Oh, that word regular sounds like regulation, right? Yes, we are creating a pattern that actually ends up helping with internalization. Right? So it's coming at the same idea. Right? So the idea is that ultimately we want the child to do this on their own, autonomously. I'm gonna throw that word in, autonomous, that's my word of the day. So we want them to do this on their own, have their own self discipline, so that they can say, I can control my emotions, I can control the temptation, I can wait. So we can do this from creating patterns, regular patterns, routines, that help us to internalize. So I have kind of a funny story and little caveats and whatnot. But making the bed has never really been a regular routine. And I know, I know, I've read up on the importance of, you know, creating habits and doing that. You could just start with your bed, right? So I know all those things. Like, I know that I know. I choose not to, okay. So my middle daughter went away to college and her roommate made her bed every day. And so, my middle daughter began to make her bed every day, which I thought was super cute because oh look, she's internalizing it. And it's not her mother getting on her case as you said, right. Yes. So a year and a half later, the child still makes her bed every day, even if she gets up late and is in a rush. So I look at that, okay, they created a pattern. It was regular, though, you know, she's internalized it. And as we've been going through this episode talking through it, I need to ask her, what is it about making your bed every day that, you know, makes you feel, and I don't want to give her the words. I want to say, does it make you feel in control, does it make you feel, why? Yeah, like I want to know the why it because she does it. And you know, this is a kid who I would say, she likes routines, she likes structure, she has typically formed that herself. That was in her temperament from the beginning. And so I keep thinking, well, why? Why? I mean, I know there was a period of time where I think I tried to have everyone make their beds every day. But you know, I suppose living in a, you know, 12 by 12 room for nine months out of the year together. Anyway, that's fine. That's my routine, regular internalization. I'll have to get back to you on why she does it story.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I'll say it. It's interesting. Okay. And I have a theory. Okay. Okay, good. Okay, so I'm gonna get a little dorky. So there's self determination theory is this idea that every human child and adult has three basic internal needs. And that's the need for mastery. So like, feeling good, feeling competent, you've mastered it, right? Yes, skills. Feeling autonomous. There's the autonomy, but that you have choice and you can affect what's happening around you. And then connection, right. So like human connection relationships. And so Deci and Ryan are the people who come up with this theory, and that everybody has these needs, and when things fit them, they help them internalize. And so I would argue that that routine, and a lot of others might fit several of those needs of like, I feel in control. I have my life together when I make my bed. Oh, right. Oh, there's something there. I don't know what it is. But there's something there.

Lori Korthals:

And mastery. I mean, it looks amazing, right? Mastery.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Way better than my bed looks every morning.

Lori Korthals:

If you think about connection, so the fact that her roommate did it. I mean, that was something that they could appreciate about each other, something they could, you know, connect over that.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Well, even if it was just a little like, positive reinforcement from her roommate of like, I think our room looks good when we make our beds. Exactly. Could be that simple. That's connection. Got it. Oh, theory, self determination theory, guys.

Lori Korthals:

I'll tell her that's why she does it.

Mackenzie Johnson:

You're like, did you know? Do you want to know why? Self-determination theory. Exactly. But yeah, so I do think routines are a great example of kind of how we internalize. We help our kids find value in these things. We want them to internalize that they're important. Those like behavior regulation, emotion regulation, cognition regulation, that they do it themselves, because they think it's important. I think this is important, important.

Lori Korthals:

It is important, important. So boom, boom.

Mackenzie Johnson:

There it is. Code cracked. That's how we teach your kids to regulate.

Lori Korthals:

Code cracked. We cracked the code. This podcast has been brought to you by...

Mackenzie Johnson:

Regulation! Technology, not technology. Terminology. Also technology, I guess.

Lori Korthals:

Technology. Yes, yes. Yeah, we have figured out, we understand what regulation is in different ways. And now we can help our kids put it into practice. So I think it's time for our strategy.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And it only felt like okay, episode one of a season on regulation. Yes. It's time for a throwback to our favorite parenting strategy, regulation strategy, every strategy. And it is, Stop. Breathe. Talk. And if this is your first episode that you've ever listened to, we are so excited to explain this to you. But if you've been with us for a while, you've maybe heard it before, but it's time for a reminder of what are we talking about when we casually bring up Stop. Breathe. Talk. and why it's important. Absolutely.

Lori Korthals:

And here's the thing about this strategy, it can be used at the beginning of needing to self regulate. It can be used in the middle, oh my gosh, I need to self regulate. It can be used towards the end when all chaos has ensued and you think there is no way out. There is. It's called Stop. However, dysregulated we are. Breathe. Talk. And the idea of this is exactly, we're simple but we're using a framework, simple framework, my favorite to meet our needs. The idea that when we recognize things are out of control or we recognize things are about to get out of control. We recognize our regulation is about to be come dysregulated, another big word. We can take a moment, we can pause, we can stop and think and take that moment to recognize it. We need to take a breath, whether it's a literal, or a figurative breath, it's just this pause. This moment to say, I do not like the direction that this is going, I need to pause. Maybe I take a breath, maybe I take a big breath times six, right? And then I, that's the breath part, stop and take a breath. And then I can talk it out, I can talk in a different direction, I can move in a different direction, I can change the way that this interaction is going. So it allows us to shift and begin to self regulate, wherever we're at in the process. Whatever age we are in the process. Yes. And that's the example I sometimes share is my one year old, my one and I don't even think she was one and a half, I know that she was my first child and she was trying desperately to get her shoe off of her foot. She's laying on the floor kicking and trying to pull that shoe off. And I just kept thinking, I got to help this kid calm down. I need to stay calm. And I would tell her, tell mommy help, please. Tell mommy help, please. And so whether I knew it or not, I was doing the Stop. Breathe. Talk. I was modeling it for her. I wasn't really thinking that my, you know, one year old was gonna say, Mommy, please help me. But I just needed to give her that break and that pause and change the direction of her behavior.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. And another way, we kind of explained this as with punctuation as an example. And so as you're talking through this, and this whole episode, I feel like it's all coming together. Sometimes when we stop, we're stopping behavior, right? Like, I am not behaving in an appropriate way. Sometimes we're stopping an emotion like, whoa, I'm really mad. But sometimes it can even be something like, Whoa, I have a bad attitude about this, or I even think like with our kids, I'm giving attention to the wrong thing. Yes, that can be cognitive regulation of like, Stop. I'm focusing on that and I need to shift that. Yes. So stop is that opportunity to say, I need to regulate, whether that's emotions, behavior, or thoughts. And so we talked about that as the exclamation point. If your interaction with your child is, you know, is a paragraph written out with punctuation, it's the exclamation point is when we're like, Whoa, this is headed a direction. Is that direction I want it to go? So that's the exclamation point - big feeling right? Strong, big. All right. And then the breath is as this paragraph is going, we come to a comma, right, the middle of the sentence tells us to take a little pause. Now, sometimes this pause is a walk around the block. Sometimes I have walked away from the kitchen table more times than I could count on all of my appendages. Because I needed to take a breath. So sometimes it is just a breath and that's going to help you get regulated, but sometimes it's a longer one. My favorite thing to cite about this is a study that found a six to ten second breath regulates your nervous system, and your cardiovascular system. So just a deep breath can regulate your body. I literally feel different. Like I feel different when I take that big breath. Absolutely. Oh, I feel so much calmer. Now I'm settling. Do better today. But that breath, that breathing is about taking pause like that comma, and then the talk is about the ellipsis or the or the dot dot dot. If you think of that paragraph, right, all these things are happening, exclamation points and that calm and take a breath. You come to an ellipsis and it can change the direction of something right so like everything was going terribly until dot dot dot. And that's the thing is once we've taken that opportunity to stop, breathe, get regulated, the way that we act and the way that we speak can change the direction. Absolutely. So we love Stop. Breathe. Talk. It's never come full circle on me like that of the like, behavior, cognition and emotion, yeah, there's all kinds. And that's why it's our favorite, right? Because it applies to everything and everybody. Yeah. So Stop. Breathe. Talk. That's our strategy for the week.

Lori Korthals:

That is our strategy. Okay. So we have mentioned several different times throughout this episode that our writer Barbara Swanson, gave us some great insight. So we decided that, you know, if you mentioned the guru a lot, you better bring the guru in. So that's what we're doing today.

Mackenzie Johnson:

We love seeing her face coming here. Hi, Barb.

Barb Dunn Swanson:

Hey, season nine, how can it be?

Mackenzie Johnson:

I know. It's crazy.

Barb Dunn Swanson:

Well, you have given us so much to think about. And Mackenzie Johnson, you started out by saying, let's see how we can add to our understanding. Wow. And you know, when you think about this idea of regulation, it's about us together, us and our kids. Yeah. And that co-regulation is so key, no matter what the age, right. Not having to do something by myself, especially if I think of those young ones. Those young littles, they are having to learn so very much. It's all at once. And then they have these big feelings that you mentioned, with no idea of how to express them, or how to do it in a way that's going to ultimately get them what they need or want. So co-regulating. In other words, a mom or dad or a caregiver helps that young person think through what it is they're needing, think through what they want to say in ways that are helpful. Not hurtful.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. Helpful. Yes. Yeah.

Lori Korthals:

And they need our help. They need our help.

Barb Dunn Swanson:

Yes, you got it.

Mackenzie Johnson:

They're learning. They're little. They're little. Yeah.

Barb Dunn Swanson:

And I want to say something that's hurtful, because I'm hurt. But that's where I need someone to co-regulate with me to show me that maybe my choice of words, like you mentioned, Mackenzie, could be important. Yes. And you know, what that leads us back to is our values, our values, and what a great example. Your daughter started making her bed, because she saw her roommate made her bed. And you know what, she had a value. I value our friendship. I value the fact that we're going to be sharing this living space. And if I want her to respect me as a roommate, I'll go the extra step and make the bed so that she sees that it's important to me too or that I value her values.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, what ways we want them to regulate related to our values.

Barb Dunn Swanson:

And the last thing that I think and you know, I've talked before, about how important 4H Youth Development has been to me. Well, I go back to exactly some of those tenants of that self determination theory that you mentioned. Love it. I know you like a framework, well, I am going to jump on your bandwagon. Because in 4H Youth Development, we know all kids need four things. And you mentioned three of them. I'll add the last one. But you talked about connections. So we talk about it like belonging. Kids want to belong, and where's the first place they belong? They belong to their family, and the connection they have with their caregiver is key. Really, really important. Yes, that's why that co-regulation is so significant, right? They trust that we'll help them learn that inner ability to regulate ourselves. Then that second one is, hey, I want to be independent. I want to be able to do things myself. Remember those two years? Myself, I do it myself.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I do it myself. I do it.

Barb Dunn Swanson:

That's right. And then we want to master whatever it is we're doing. We want to get good at it. We want to have a mastery of it. So think about your kids in school. Yeah, you want to do well, and they want to show you what they can do. Think about sports. How are we mastering what it is we know how to do? Yes. And then last, the fourth one that I think about is generosity. How can I learn what it is that I need to learn? And then practice showing others, practicing being kind and generous to other people, just sharing those kinds of things. And so I think that if we think about young people and knowing and helping them regulate some of the values, some of our coparenting co-regulating, all the co-'s.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Cooperation.

Barb Dunn Swanson:

Cooperation? And how about those C's that we mentioned several podcasts ago? Several seasons ago. The caring and the community...

Mackenzie Johnson:

XXXXSeven Cs of resilience. Do you need me to say them, Barb.

Barb Dunn Swanson:

Why don't you because I think they fit right here,

Mackenzie Johnson:

I'll say them, okay, competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control. And those are the seven Cs of resilience, how we raise resilient kids. But you're right, that regulation and resilience are at least related, like they're at least cousins, right? They build each other.

Barb Dunn Swanson:

They are related. So that's my thought for today. And thanks for having me on season nine with you. And I'm looking forward to unpacking a few more ideas. Mackenzie, like you said, to add to our understanding of how best we can help our young people regulate.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, thanks so much, Barb.

Barb Dunn Swanson:

You are so welcome.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, regulation is a kind of a sweet spot in your knowledge. So we always love when Barb can hop in here and share just the way that she thinks about it, and the empathy she brings to it. And so we're excited to have her hanging with us in season nine. So our Stop. Breathe. Talk. space when we bring in one of our teammates here to talk about it is kind of where we wrap up. And so, I mean, that was it, right? We're talking about understanding regulation, and that we each may have a little bit of a different take on it. You know, looking at those three different kinds, which I think you might hear more about this season. We'll keep seeing those come through, you know, but then looking at how do we make this happen, and we're gonna keep digging into it. But initially, today, we say, helping our kids internalize those things and making them routine are a good starting place. But that's where we are for today.

Lori Korthals:

They are.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I forgot. We said Stop. Breathe. Talk.

Lori Korthals:

We did say Stop. Breathe. Talk. Of course, we do that, don't we? Yeah, we do that? Yes. All right. So next episode, right, the thing we're going to talk about is regulation that parents do, like, how do we regulate? Okay, and how does our self regulating affect our kids? So hang with us. We're gonna do that next episode.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I'm excited for people to hear the title. I'm excited for the title of the episode.

Lori Korthals:

I don't even know the title yet.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I know you don't know. You'll find out.

Lori Korthals:

But thanks for joining us today on The Science of Parenting podcast and just a friendly reminder that you can subscribe to our weekly audio podcast on Apple, Spotify or your favorite podcast app. And don't miss the rest of the episodes that come out this season on regulation.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, please do come along with us as we tackle the ups and downs, the ins and outs, and the research and reality all around The Science of Parenting.

Anthony Santiago:

The Science of Parenting is hosted by Lori Korthals and Mackenzie Johnson, produced by Mackenzie DeJong, with research and writing by Barbara Dunn Swanson. Send in questions and comments to parenting@iastate.edu and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext