The Science of Parenting

Regulation in Stages | S.9 Ep.3

June 16, 2022 Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Season 9 Episode 3
The Science of Parenting
Regulation in Stages | S.9 Ep.3
Show Notes Transcript

Does regulation look the same for kids of different ages? What exactly are kids “regulating” toward? Parents of toddlers intervene HOW OFTEN to manage behavior? Get all these answers in this week’s episode!

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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 back to The Science of Parenting podcast.

Lori Korthals:

Here we are, we're still on regulation and season nine, episode three.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Still digging into it. Well, our first two were, What is Regulation. And then last week, we were reflecting on the importance of us as the adults in the adult-child relationship. We are the adult of the adult child part. Yeah, that means that we have to regulate so that we can practice and model and teach our kids these regulation skills. So we have an important role here.

Lori Korthals:

We do. And this week, we are going to look at how our children grow and develop and how that affects their ability to regulate themselves and what kind of skills they have, currently at their age to regulate.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And we're gonna keep leaning into, you might remember in the first episode, we were talking about aligning. Well, that was the definition I liked anyway, or you liked the simpler one, but I liked the idea, we're going to align our behavior. We're going to align our cognitive thoughts, our attitudes, our attention. We're going to align our feelings with a given situation. So we're going to talk about how that situation is really what changes at each age and what we expect our kids to align with.

Lori Korthals:

Absolute sneaky, very sneaky. Yes. And, you know, as we look at different ages, we want to take a look back to that developmentalist perspective. We've covered that in a couple of different seasons. We've talked about it but just as a reminder, when we talk about developmentalist perspective, what we're talking about is really what's the age of the child, but what is it that they're working through at that specific age? And as we look at what they're working through at the age, how does this justify the things that we can expect from them, especially when it comes to their ability to have regulation and align their behaviors with what's going on in our world of rules?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. Well, where they cite this in that Handbook of Parenting that we love so much, they remind us that the developmentalist perspective is basically, age is an important consideration when we make our parenting decisions, right? Well, a two year old and a 15 year old, different things. And so you know when our kids are littler, they need more help, you know, they need help from us as parents, and we have to exert that authority to do things like keep them safe. But then as they get older, relinquishing or releasing a little bit of that control is also important because there's less of a justification, right? They're older now. And yes, they need our support. But there's less of a justification for us to be controlling of certain things, especially like personal choices.

Lori Korthals:

Exactly, exactly. And, you know, as they grow and as they work through their development, you know, we want them to express their feelings and be able to show and share with us what those feelings are. And sometimes as adults, we might see them modeling our own suppression of feelings, right?

Mackenzie Johnson:

I feel like that's targeted, Lori. I feel like you're targeting that comment at me.

Lori Korthals:

No. But we might need to release some of that control, just share your story, just share a great example, and we need to share this story.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And so as we think about regulation and the developmental perspective of like, okay, as they get older, we release a little control. I was talking about in terms of how our kids express their emotion, right. And so, literally last night, I'm home with my kids. My partner was out engaged in something else, out of the house. And so it's just me and the kids home and I had one fall apart and another one, the other child starts to fall apart. And she was angry, and she felt like something was unfair. And she does this like, I don't know what to call it, it's like a growl, but she's frustrated with this situation. And I can make that noise, well, I can imitate it because I do it. I do that when I'm angry. But she kept doing it. And she would get mad and she'd hit her arm against the wall, or she'd kick her feet, not even kick anything necessarily, just kick her feet. And I found myself last night and honestly, I got real dysregulated. I pulled out the full middle name, right, like we went full out. But we both got dysregulated, the emotions got ahead of us. But the way she was expressing it, that's what I wanted to control. And so, you know, it's kind of tricky, because we want to encourage them, we want to encourage our kids to express emotions in an appropriate way. But the way that they choose, right, my daughter wasn't hurting anybody with the growling. It wasn't unsafe. I was that's fine. That's hard for me to say, it's fine if you want to growl because it annoys me.

Lori Korthals:

I'm so glad this is recorded.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I can look back and be like, Yeah, I was getting irritated. But yeah, I wanted to control that expression of emotion. But really, she wasn't doing anything unsafe. It was just kind of getting under my skin. So that is something when it comes to regulation, we're releasing some of that control of how our kids regulate. Might not always be on our terms.

Lori Korthals:

Yes. And in all fairness, you know, I will share that. So I have a wonderful, fabulous ability to, you know, just shut down when I'm dysregulated. And I've passed that on as well. So, you know, while you might have growling in Mine is growling and yours is no talking. your house, we have an inordinate amount of silence in ours. Alright, so let's look at the different ages of children and what those developmental tasks are or, you know, what is it that children are regulating or aligning to, when it comes to what their ages are in particular? And so for this episode, we're using a lot of content from Dr. Jane Brooks, in her book, the Process of Parenting,

Mackenzie Johnson:

And you used the word that I think is so important for us to keep in mind as we think about regulation and what it looks like at these different stages. And that is that word aligning. What are our kids aligning to based on where they're at in their development? What are they aligning there? Right? Remember, our definition was that they were going to align their behavior, their thoughts, their emotions, with a situation. Yeah. And part of what they're aligning to is the developmental task with regulation. So let's look at some of these examples of regulation at different ages, because they aren't totally what came to my mind when I thought of regulation.

Lori Korthals:

Right, exactly. And so as we look at the newborn, those first three months of life, the little babies. We know that they are really focused on at the age, at that time, at that development, that they're learning to regulate their alertness. When they're asleep, when they're awake, what they're giving attention to. And that really is the foundation of regulation. They're aligning their behavior with society's roles, right?

Mackenzie Johnson:

And their ability, right, I can't handle being awake this long. I'm tired. Yes, yeah. Yes. Well, you know, and then we move into our little bit older babies, like three months to maybe one year, still babies. But they're not quite toddlers yet. And so you know, what they're regulating is a lot of their interaction with the world, right? So even when they reach for a toy, or when they roll over, now they're not walking all over getting into stuff yet. But that idea that they are interacting with the world. They're realizing in their brain, Lori always loves this, their brain development, they're realizing, I can do something which causes something else. I can touch this toy and it'll light up. I can make this sound and my parents will react, right? When I smile at them, they might smile back. And so they are learning a lot about regulating their behavior to interact with the world. But then also, I thought this was so interesting. At this age, they can start to self soothe a little right. They've got maybe pacifiers, they suck on their hands, they might suck on a thumb, but they're finding ways to regulate their own emotions. And the other thing, they also regulate their attention, right? They were talking about in the book, how babies will turn away from things that overstimulate them, or you've talked before about babies that fall asleep, they sleep through the whole party, the whole band concert. And I'm like, that is regulation? I didn't know that.

Lori Korthals:

Totally regulation, I'm out, tapping out.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So even our babies, even babies are learning to regulate those things. And then it goes into toddlers, right? This is where the game really changes, right?

Lori Korthals:

And that is key right there, the game really changes, okay. So A, the toddlers are really starting to recognize that they have some push and pull in this world,

Mackenzie Johnson:

Well, and I even think I remember learning that they can make things happen, they can make people interact with them. And they are finding out that this idea of in one of my classes about when kids walk, once kids walk, our back and forth is within their power, right? It's within their control. And at the same time, we, the adults, keep changing expectations of them entirely change. Suddenly, we see them as the rules on them as they grow. Right. So I look at this age as a time where well, okay, let's just face it. People call this having control of their behavior. And so in the sometimes the terrible twos, right? I like to think of it as textbook, the Process of Parenting, they broke down some terrific twos in terms of brain development. But think about all the things that we change the day that calendar date moves to of the ways we actually change those rules that we as parents two years old. And did we have a sit down with them and you know, have a long conversation about, now that you're two years old, do without even consciously making the decisions. You know, these are the rules that we expect from you? No, right? We didn't because they are only two. They wouldn't understand so they talked about at one year old when kids are kind of it. Yes, but we do it anyway. We change the rules. Now that you're two, we expect this.

Lori Korthals:

But that's not fair.

Mackenzie Johnson:

But we do, and it's like, okay, now we've walking, toddling around, that are rules mostly centered around learned more about being safe. And then we're going to talk more about expectations of appropriate behavior. Yeah, so now we can see kids as being good behavior or not so good. safety, right? I can't let you do this, I can't let you do that, in order to keep you safe. But it changes when they get a bit older, even just 18 months, they're not that much older.

Lori Korthals:

And I really pushed back on these when we were talking through because I'm of the, this is not fair to do to them at two years old. And the reality is that I recognize, we've got to tell you about these because we do it anyway, even though Lori is in the background saying but it's not fair to them. You do suddenly expect them to have more appropriate behavior. The book says expectations of good behavior and social behavior. And I just want you to know from now on, you'll hear Lori in the background saying, but that's not fair! Yeah. You know, yesterday it was funny that I threw my spoon on the floor. And today, it's not. What changed? Well, the adults' rules changed, right? And yes, we need to learn to give those toddlers grace. Time to learn the new rules that we suddenly set before them. And guess what, it's going to take more than one time of giving them these new rules, multiple times, multiples of times, telling those rules.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I even think so at one year, we're thinking about safety. At 18 months, we're thinking about the expectations of appropriate behavior. And then at two years old, so in a matter of year, now we're adding on you need to be polite, you need to be socially appropriate. Bu yeah, that it's not a conscious thought, right? We don't wake up one day and be like, you know what you need to be able to do kids, right? It's something that we gradually, I mean, we might even say scaffold, we slowly build more and more expectations. But yeah, that it is different. When our child was crying as a one year old or a little bit younger, it was like, oh, I know, it's harder and we soothe. Do we do those kinds of things with our toddlers and their regulation? And so I think that we can. I do agree it's a little unfair. But I would say I'm more of the, how do we respond to this change in expectations with our kids in a way that promotes regulation? Because yeah, it's a lot of work to raise a toddler, okay.

Lori Korthals:

And maybe that's it. I'm too far removed from this.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Okay, and let me tell you just how hard raising a toddler is. In the book, they were talking about this study where they found that parents of two year olds intervene eight to 10 times per hour with their child to help their child comply. Eight to ten times an hour, Lori!

Lori Korthals:

But they're so cute, they are.

Mackenzie Johnson:

There's a lot of regulation learning that needs to happen yet.

Lori Korthals:

You're right, you're right. You're right.

Mackenzie Johnson:

But it is unfair. You're right. At You need to come when I say come, you need to pick up when I toddlerhood, we institute rules, right? They need to start being safe. They need to start being polite. say pick up. Yes. And so we do, we build on more and more expectations as they get older which is developmentalist, I guess. But we keep building and so they need to align their behavior and their feelings, right? They're still learning how to do those things. They're still learning how to align those things. They are, they're very new people. Only two years of being people.

Lori Korthals:

Only 24 whole months, that is new people. Yeah. I feel like I'm the toddler advocate. I've got the pedestal. Yes.

Mackenzie Johnson:

It's a good thing, though. It's a good thing. I love that you love toddlers.

Lori Korthals:

I do. All right. So what about preschoolers?

Mackenzie Johnson:

All right, well, the cool thing, or it's cool to think about, it's not always cool when you're the parent of a preschooler, but their behavior, what they really start to regulate towards, is they start to look for ways to avoid punishment. They will avoid, not necessarily so if I do something that maybe wasn't such a good choice, but I don't get caught. Right. And so that's how they start to regulate their things. They're learning more that they know things that other people don't know. And so this makes lying a behavior that tends to happen, some of those little sneaky things that kids get into in the preschool years, because their goal, what they align their behavior with is just, I don't want to get in trouble. And as Barb pointed out, they also have a good sense of how to spin it. Right? They're learning that they control their behavior, and they influence the world. And well, I did this because...they've got their own spin now.

Lori Korthals:

They do. And sometimes as a parent, don't you just go, wow, hmm, I wish I'd have thought of that. Yeah. That's really good.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Like that was creative.

Lori Korthals:

It was fabulous.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And I worked with somebody, I was partnering with somebody to offer a program one time, and her daughter was right in the stage, she just lied. Oh, my gosh, she's lying now. And she was just like, ecstatic. She thought it was so cool. She goes, she knows that she knows stuff I don't know. How cool is that? I was like, I love that you feel that way. That's awesome. Brain development. So lying is typical because what they're aligning their behavior and their attitude and their feelings to is they just don't want to get in trouble, even if that's not totally about following the rules. Oh, yeah. All right. And then moving on to elementary, And I think of times I've heard, you know, my daughter is in right. All right.

Lori Korthals:

So thinking about what are they aligning towards. They are around more and more people that aren't you? Right? Mm hmm. They're aligning with friends at school. And so early, early elementary and even how she has told me like, well, thinking about, you know, a couple of behaviors, specifically things like social relationships. Honesty becomes, you know, very important suddenly at this age. It changes from lying to honesty. Bullying, those new relationships and how they don't make good choices, right. And talking about a we get what we want and what we say to get what we want in terms of other people, right? Relationships with teachers, specific child in their classroom or in their swim even. And if we think about regulation, one of the things that we really concentrate on at this age is the idea that if you're a child who has, you know, outbursts, you oftentimes lessons or, you know, in whatever situation that kids might be the outcast. Yeah, so as a child, you're trying to regulate your behavior, align your behavior in a way that pick up on that, and it is kind of heartbreaking, because each other children your age, feel is appropriate so that they'll include you. That's hard, like that makes my heart hurt. kid brings different assets to the table in terms of regulation, and a lot of which aren't within their control. Exactly. And some of these things are new, like new emotions, such as discouragement. This is a new emotion in this particular age group. And they are rapidly learning new skills. Think about all the things that they learned in that first year of school, whether it's kindergarten or first grade. I mean, that is a lot of new things to take on and align your behavior with. That's hard.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And all the mastery they're doing, you know, like all of the learning a new activity, learning new math skills, and then we move on to a new math unit in a few weeks and then reading and writing, all of these things. And that's a lot. And so yeah, of course, they can get more discouraged, of course, because they're doing a lot. There's so much, but they need new regulation skills for that. That's a different feeling than just anger or just disappointment. They need new skills for that.

Lori Korthals:

They do. Yep. All right. How about those early adolescence, those preteens?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, so similar to our early elementary, they're very focused on their relationships. What gets a little bit different is, it's more about expectations that other people have, right? So it might be that they are aligning their behavior in terms of like living up to someone's expectations, or, you know, even just meeting other's needs. Now, unfortunately, the book pointed out that parents are often not the recipient of that focus, right? It might not be our expectations they're focused on which is kind of a bummer. But it might be more focused on their friends or on their teachers or on their coaches. And so, but that they are really aligning their behavior and what's going through their head is related to what other people think, and the expectations others have. So this means, as we think about regulation, the way they behave is going to align with that. And even their communication can really change. They might get more private with their parents, or they might be more friend focused. And that's just a natural progression that kids go through. But thinking about how that regulates the interactions you have, then how that impacts those things. Because the other part that's happening is we increase our expectations. Yes, right. When kids are in like middle school, in high school, we add responsibility to the table, right? We might expect them, okay, now you can handle your homework, mostly yourself. Or now you maybe you start babysitting your younger siblings, or now you have more chores, or driving privileges or right. And so we add these responsibilities, which means there's typically more conflict. They have to learn to regulate their behavior and their thought processes and their emotions around these new expectations. So just like when they were toddlers, but we're adding a new layer of expectations, which means there's often more conflict. But I also like to remind parents, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Because the conflict is natural. Yes, as you progress, and you can use that conflict to demonstrate regulations you can model. Like, you're really mad that this...how are you going to deal with that? Yeah, right. And helping them problem solve those issues and those challenges together. It can be a very productive conflict when done intentionally.

Lori Korthals:

It makes me think of what our supervisor says, and what have you learned?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Something happens and what did you learn?

Lori Korthals:

I love it. So okay, so these late teens and early adults, you said that the preteens become other person focused, right? And so then the next developmental stage is inner focused. So the I am now focusing on what are my values as a late teen and emerging adult. What are my values? What do I believe? What do I internalize in terms of the behaviors and alignment that I want to do? And yes, we look at how can we help them establish healthy habits because they're not going to be in our home likely very much longer. How can we help them cope with some heavy emotions that they're probably really starting to just learn about at this age, such as depression or anxiety or even aggression. They have to decide what am I going to do about this? What do I believe about these really heavy hard feelings? And really filling their toolbox so that they can go in and grab the tool that they need when it comes to regulating and aligning their emotions.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And especially because again, that's probably a new emotion. Yeah, exactly. Yes. So they need new skills.

Lori Korthals:

And then the idea of what do they believe about their future? What kind of goals do they have? And how the decisions I make right now impact what I believe about my future and my long term plans? Well, that's a lot to regulate.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. Well, and we can kind of see how at each stage in their development, that regulation task, and what they're working to align to changes, right? Infants and toddlers, or infants are really focused. Yeah, infants, I was gonna say newborns and infants, well, all the babies. But they're regulating to what they can handle to their own, like alertness to their own stimulation, and the little opportunities they have to regulate or to interact with the world. And then our toddlers. Here's the rules. That's where the rules start, and we get rolling on them. And so they've got to align that with all of the feelings they now get with frustration of those rules. Right? And so they're regulating again. What are they aligning to? New rules. Preschoolers, what are they aligning to? Staying out of trouble. Getting out of trouble. And then it keeps going. Elementary age, social relationships, and preteens, what others think and meeting their expectations. And then finally, in the teen years, like late teen years and early adulthood, they can remember a little bit more to get back to themselves and how they align like, my goals. Right. So they're not lost, but they get a little off the path of regulating to themselves along the way.

Lori Korthals:

Yes. Excellent, excellent recap. Excellent.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Well, and I think, you know, my takeaway even just walking back through that right now, I think about how we change the rules. And that's honestly my takeaway from the whole conversation is, we change the rules, which we should, right? They have new abilities and we want to teach them new things. And then they have to realign and that's a lot of where we see regulation, right? We see the emotions, we see the behavior choices, we see the attitude sometimes and the way they talk about things. And that's them aligning to continue to change the expectations. What do you think, all of this talk around regulation at different ages?

Lori Korthals:

So interestingly enough, I ended up going all the way back to newborns. And one of my very favorite developmental researcher/gurus about babies, I guess, is T. Berry Brazelton. And he wrote a book that he titled Touch Points and I always think about touch points. And those are those places where a child is learning and he did a lot with infants and where they're learning some new skill. And because they're learning this new skill, the rest of their body and brain says, okay, I gotta back up on this other stuff. Because this milestone I'm working on is really taking a lot out of me. And so I think about, you know, the child who has a brand new sibling come home, and their brain and their body is working on this emotion of, wait a second, what do you mean, they're staying?

Mackenzie Johnson:

The baby was cool for a minute. Right?

Lori Korthals:

So now suddenly, the first child is not sleeping well, they maybe are having more accidents. And yes, the touch points was kind of focused on those early years. But I think about it in terms of my older kids, too, right. So, you know, my first child launched and went to college. You know, I think we probably had more emotional outbursts because she was stressed. Yes, about oh my goodness, I chose to go to this school and right now I'm choosing to study this and so that touch point of the rest of the body and the brain needing to regress and can I just be your little girl. I want you to hold me. That's what I think of when I think about this whole developmental perspective that there are these touch points where our body and brain say, okay, I can give you this much for this new milestone, then I need to have this outburst. I need to have this emotion, this dysregulation, for a moment, please.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And that's what I was just gonna say was, and typically where we see the regression is in regulation. Right? Even like potty accidents, how they regulate their body to go to the bathroom, how they regulate their behavior, or their emotional outbursts or the way that they regulate, gives a little so they can take on a new skill sometimes. Yes. Hmm. I had never connected those dots. What gives tends to be regulation.

Lori Korthals:

I am so not regulated right now. I need this time on the floor kicking and screaming because you just told me that I can't throw my spoon on the floor. And yesterday it was funny.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. Speaking of throwing spoons, yeah. So speaking of dysregulation, and that's the other thing we wanted to look at too, is what does dysregulation look like? So we talked about being regulated, getting regulated, regulation is, dysregulated. What about that one? What does dysregulated mean and look like?

Lori Korthals:

I think if we gave everyone 10 seconds to We have personal experience with a dysregulated child, listeners think about what a dysregulated child sounds like, looks like, maybe the parent feels when their child is dysregulated, I'm guessing they might be able to come up with an answer or six about what disrupt you. of this podcast. Yes. Please submit your answers. Now.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Well and I'm like, okay, infants, fussy, crying, like, out of sync even, just like not quite on the same page throughout the day. Can't figure out what's going on. And then if they're difficult to soothe. I even think of sometimes like they're disengaged, just like the blank stare. That baby is overstimulated, you know, and yeah, toddlers and preschoolers, like reverting back to behaviors of tantrums or accidents or waking in the night and being clingy. That's another one. One of my dysregulated children is so whiny and clingy so fast. Yes. When they're out of sync. Yeah. And it looks different for our kids that are older too, right?

Lori Korthals:

It does. It does. And the school agers, they get dysregulated, right, but remember that the dysregulates regulated school ager, that may be the child the others are looking at. And so being dysregulated as a school ager can be terrifying. So maybe they become dysregulated by just zoning out, right? They're not engaged. But then again, they could be anxious, they could get whiny or hyper. But that developmental task right there for that particular age, that can be terrifying. What's going on? What are they all going to think of me in my second grade classroom if I become dysregulated like I do at home?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And sometimes just not having the skills because each kid does bring, like I said, we bring those different assets to the table in regulation, and that they just might not have the control yet. They might not have the skills yet. And so yes, they don't want the social consequences. And they don't know what to do with these feelings yet. Exactly. That is dysregulation.

Lori Korthals:

Yes, exactly. I've had a couple of dysregulated teens if you want me to tell you what they look like.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I would love that.

Lori Korthals:

They have exhibited moodiness. I don't know if anyone's been excessively angry. But that's something that the teen can show dysregulated. Absolutely can be anxious. They can isolate themselves. So it really depends on how they express their dysregulation. But, you know, keeping again, those developmental tasks in mind, that can kind of give you clues as what to look for.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And yeah, so it looks so different for each kid. And yeah, what came to mind in our 10 second picture for each of us as parents can look different. And you might even have more than one for different kids. Absolutely. Every kid looks different. But we wanted to kind of give you a sense of what might it look like? And I don't know if I wanted to admit that whiny is dysregulated. I think I just want whining to be unacceptable. I don't want to acknowledge that.

Lori Korthals:

No whining allowed. Alright, so let's look at some strategies. There's an interesting thing that we're going to save for the end of this, but pay close attention to these strategies for dysregulation or regulation.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So in our Handbook of Parenting, which we've cited lots this season, and you know, we just love so much. Eisenberg and Volante are authors of a chapter of actually

Lori Korthals:

And seven qualities that parents have that an older version than we currently have, but they put out this list of what types of parent qualities are basically associated with kids' regulation. So when kids can self-regulate, and kids can show pro-social behavior, and so they have seven qualities. We've adapted a little bit but we have seven qualities. help children with their regulation. Okay, so the first one is being a warm and supportive parent. So being warm and supportive with your children is number one. Okay, so the second one is then developing mutually responsive relationships. So relationships between parent and child where the child can express their needs and vice versa. All right, so there's this back and forth responsiveness.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. Another one is when parents can help kids understand others feelings, and the effect that their own behavior has on others. Right. So when we're teaching our kids about their behavior, and about understanding others' feelings. Also, number four is using reasoning and persuasion to gain compliance with rules. All right, so we talked about that in the discipline season a little bit of this compliance cooperation idea, but when we use reasoning, it can help promote regulation in our kids. So using that to get compliance is a good strategy. And then also including our kids in family decision making when it's appropriate. Giving them a sense of contribution to our family is actually a basic strategy that helps promote regulation.

Lori Korthals:

Okay, so those were the first five and we have two left, qualities parents have in helping children learn regulation. Okay, I'm trying to give them hints on what it sounds like. Okay, so the sixth one is to help children develop this internalization of their values, right? They have their own internalization of rules, and they want to regulate the cause. They want to and it's not just to not get in trouble. So this is internalization. Right. And then the last one, the last characteristic is to model care and concern for others. So this is a list of seven characteristics parents, and caregivers can have.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And that are associated with child self regulation. Yes. Now, here's what I think this sounds like. I think these seven qualities that are associated with kids' self-regulation, sounds an awful lot like the techniques we talked about for positive discipline. Because regulating is about aligning with a situation. It's about aligning with expectations. And for most parents, when we're talking about discipline, we're talking about compliance with our expectations or cooperation with our goals. And so yeah, that these basic traits are like, hey, parents who exhibit these traits, it's been shown there's an association with those kids having higher self-regulation.

Lori Korthals:

Two for one. Yeah. This podcast is about discipline.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Surprise. Oh, it's also it's from Season Eight. Discipline. It's there, but it's here in season nine. Yes. Very sneaky. This group. Yes.

Lori Korthals:

Sneaky. And is this like a good thing to divulge that we didn't think about it till we got all the way through this episode. Oh, yeah.

Mackenzie Johnson:

We had fully come up with the strategies chosen and we're like, hey, sounds like discipline. We had our own little Aha, okay.

Lori Korthals:

Yeah, we have those. All right. So this speaking of aha's, I mean, who brings us our aha's all the time but our writer Barb Dunn Swanson. This is our time in our episode where we can practice what we talked about. And what we talked about is this idea of taking a moment to stop, breathe, take a breath, think intentionally about our topic. And then invite someone in. Typically, we invite our producer and today we're going to invite our writer just like we have the first two episodes of this season. So hi, Barb.

Barb Dunn Swanson:

What a great introduction to all of this conversation. Just amazing. Amazing. And I gotta start with you, Mackenzie, you led us down a great pathway when you talked about your daughter and her experience having to pick up.

Mackenzie Johnson:

It's hard. It's hard for me too, let's be honest.

Barb Dunn Swanson:

It is hard for the parent because parents don't want their children to feel dysregulated because it impacts parents, too. Right? But here's the situation I was thinking about for our children, what is it they need from you? In that situation, what was your daughter trying to tell you? Number one, she might have wanted to tell you that, and you mentioned this, that it's not fair that she has to pick those up. Because you know what, you've told us she didn't make the mess but you were telling her that she's picking it up. So that was number one. She might also be telling you, I would do it if you wouldn't walk away. Maybe she needed you to be in the same room while she picked it up. So here's what I'm saying. Perhaps we can do the communication with them. I see that you're through the growling, that you're unhappy. I hear all of that. Now, I want you to use your words and tell me why. And I'll listen, I want to hear why you're so upset. Because maybe we can talk about it. And then you open that door. So here's what happens. You talked about it, you want to align with her. And once you hear her description of why she's so upset, then I can say something that aligns with her. You know what I'd be very upset too if I thought that I hadn't made a mess, but I had to clean up. And then you follow it up with, and you know what, you're really helpful. You're helpful right now, because this is the time of day when everybody in the house has to help clean up, and you're being really helpful. And so we give back some praise. We give back some good feelings, perhaps.

Lori Korthals:

Man, I needed a Barb when my kids were little.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I'll say the thing that I'm thinking of, as you say those things, I'm like, yeah, those are things. Yeah. Yeah, I know that. But I'm also thinking, you know what else she needed? She needed a regulated adult. Like, oh, episode two, was it. I was not a regulated adult. Which meant I did have to come back later. And we had to do some processing together. And even before, you know, I put her to bed, and we did the snuggles and the repairing and I told her I was sorry I yelled. And, you know, even before I put her to bed, I was just like, is there anything else you want to talk about it? Like, is there anything else you want to say about it? And she just really wanted to say again? It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair. We did. I didn't say that. When I told the story. The first time was okay. I told you the growling. Yeah. And then I lost it a little bit. And then yeah, later, we had to, had to repair after we both got a little regulated.

Barb Dunn Swanson:

And you know what? Absolutely. Both of you have had so many experiences with your own kids, and have come through it beautifully. All of this is the journey of parenting, isn't it? Yeah. And what works for one person. And I can say all of this, because I wasn't at your house. I wasn't in on the experience. So it's easy to look in hindsight and have all kinds of great responses. But quite literally, it's hard to be in the moment. And so every every parent, as the first educator of their child, does the best they can with the information they have. But it just kind of goes back to saying, yeah, we have to get ourselves regulated first, before we can expect our kids to become regulated. But then what is it that we get? What are the questions we can ask to get at the heart of why they're choosing the behaviors they're choosing? How about even the situation we talked about where maybe they're a little bit older, and they tell those little white lies? Or they fib or they make something up? Because it fits their story of what's going on? You know, then we have to deal with that, too, because we have a value in our house of honesty. And so honesty means we're going to tell the truth, even when it doesn't feel good in the moment. We're going to tell the truth and let's unpack this and see what's going on. Why is it that you felt like you couldn't trust to tell me what's really going on? Sure. Those are difficult conversations. Oh, my goodness, they aren't easy to have. But they're the pieces that will help young kids just know that we are a safe place. Yes, we are safe as the caregivers in their life, we are a safe place. And you think about infants, the infants trust us to provide all the regulation for them early on. They can't feed themselves. They can't change their own diapers, any of those things. They require those needs to be met by that caregiver. And once that infant realizes my caregiver is going to take care of me, I can then regulate. I can calm down. I'm going to cry right now to let you know I need help here. But once you help me out, I'm going to feel better, and I'm gonna get regulated. And that helps build my neural, my memory, my neural network. And so that's really important. So I think brain development is a part of this. I think rhythm, temperament and rhythm, our body's natural rhythm is a part of this equation as is then communicating and keeping those lines open. But you all did such a great job walking us through, you know, what the ages are like, and what we might be expecting when we talk about these kids and their regulation habits.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, well, thanks for the insight on that, Barb. And yet, it's just good to hear Barb's voice describe regulation situations, isn't it, Lori?

Lori Korthals:

I almost had to cut her off so she didn't give away next week.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Like don't say it. Well, thank you so much for hopping in here with this, Barb. But yes. I just love to talk about regulation with you. We know you have such a passion and a knowledge base for it.

Lori Korthals:

Yes.

Barb Dunn Swanson:

Thank you, girls.

Lori Korthals:

Thank you.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So she did. She was giving the full teaser to next week. Not yet. Okay, not yet. But yeah, today we were looking in this episode at regulating and stages. What are kids regulating? What are they aligning to in the different age they're at? The developmental regulation task, if you will. Big words. So basically we just say like, what are they figuring out right now and how we can help them with those things. So we do, we keep that age in mind as we think about regulation. But we know that it'll be different for each kid. Right? Right, Lori?

Lori Korthals:

Right, it will be based on their, Barb said the

Mackenzie Johnson:

Talking all about temperament and word, temperament. Next week, we are going to talk about how their temperament impacts their regulation and how one affects regulation. I can't wait. And you know, Lori is just like, oh, the other and vice versa. we're talking about temperament and regulation.

Lori Korthals:

Can we talk about it now?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Almost, almost.

Lori Korthals:

Thank you. Yes, thank you for joining us today on The Science of Parenting podcast. And if you want to learn more about your child's abilities at each age, and get some tips for supporting their development, you can check out our website scienceofparenting.org and we have specific pages tailored for each stage of our child's development.

Mackenzie Johnson:

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.