Self-Regulation VS Co-Regulation or Both?

Human bodies are amazing and self-regulating. We each have a unique homeostasis that our bodies need to feel balanced and function optimally. Dependent on our environment, interpersonal neurobiology, genetics, temperament, exposure to toxins or trauma, we each need a variety of nutrients, needs met, and level of stimulation/arousal to function well. When we are pushed out of our window of tolerance or are deficient in anything, we will automatically react with symptoms and signals to get what we perceive we are needing. The body will actually shut down certain functions based on how vital the functions are to staying alive under the current conditions we are perceiving.

You may have heard the term self-regulation which refers to being able to control oneself in order to find balance and calm within our internal and external systems. When it comes to emotions, self-regulation often means having the ability to:

1) Notice and identify that you are having an emotional reaction;

2) Know that the emotion signals a need;

3) Express needs and emotions in respectful, clear, and direct ways;

4) Manage emotions in a productive way that you start to feel calm; and

5) Be emotionally, physically, psychologically calm, thoughtful, responsive, connected in times of stress.

These abilities are aspects of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Social Emotional Learning (SEL). When it comes to children, I believe there are some big misconceptions about self-soothing and regulating emotions which are causing our society great dysregulation and devastating negative consequences, like domestic violence, crime, child abuse and neglect, epidemic levels of drug abuse, bullying, and suicide.

For one, children under the age of three cannot emotionally self-regulate as the co reg Dr Shankerdevelopment of brain functions that even allow for this ability do not come online until age three. Secondly, the ability to self-regulate is actually first developed through the process of co-regulation, especially from conception to age seven. Co-regulation means having the consistent and dependable presence of a caregiver who can self-regulate and is safe, nurturing, and responsive, especially in times of stress. Thus to learn to self-soothe and self-regulate, we need someone to reliably soothe us during our most critical, sensitive, and distressing times of development. Sadly, many caregivers don’t have the skills themselves to emotionally self-regulate so they react negatively to the child who has less ability to process and cope. A third misconception occurs most often when kids appear to be self-regulating and controlling themselves, yet what is likely happening is that they have learned to shut down connection to their own emotions and needs and are complying out of fear of upsetting caregivers or others.

Needing someone is normal and expected based on our biology. Human beings are wired to be in relationship and connect. As humans, we function better when we are surrounded by others who are calm and nurturing. This is why family, communities and committed partnerships that are consistently safe, loving and trusting are huge resiliency factors and cultivate optimal growth and well-being. Realistically, life will always have stressors and filled with big conflicting emotions so it is advantageous to have reliable safeguards.

Even when the presence of a safe, trusting relationship is established and secure, and one can self-regulate well, any new variable or stressful event out of one’s window of tolerance would still require the presence of another to help calm our central nervous system, regardless of age and ability. Children are constantly being exposed to new experiences and information so they need this reliable presence in order to integrate the experiences and information into their mind and being. Considering the alarming rate at which information is streaming at us and how fast technology is advancing, the risk of being pushed out of our windows of tolerance and not getting our vital needs met is extremely high and constant.

Think about when you are in distress, do you prefer your partner or support persons to minimize, react negatively or abandon you in your distress? Or do you get calmer faster when at least one person is there who is calm and trying to understand you, who is validating and supporting you through? … It amazes me how few adults realize that when they react negatively or how dismissing their children’s negative emotions, that this signals their own dysregulation and tolerance level. How can one expect a child with less experience, skills, and resources to regulate themselves especially when they are feeling the added distress of their caregiver? An angry or upset caregiver is perceived instantly as a threat to a child as their livelihood depends on the mood and presence of their caregiver.

Most of our problems come from having an experience that is confusing, overwhelming, conflicting and we have no safe places to process the negative energy, related emotions and thoughts. The negative energy and tension build up, then we’ll end up we acting it out or shutting down. Not getting our vital needs met, like having food, water, fresh air or not feeling safe or connected to others, as well as lacking skills leads to a build-up of stress and trauma.  Most don’t even realize they have a homeostasis or what they need to function optimally let alone be able to communicate those needs to others so we keep getting stuck in deregulated states and create negative feedback loops within our bodies and relationships. We get overwhelmed by big conflicting emotions and stressors, can’t access our resources and default to hyper- or hypo-aroused state which causes more negative emotions and stress, feeding a vicious, depleting cycle.

To stop the cycle, try taking a few deep, controlled breaths now…Notice what you are thinking and feeling…What sensations do you notice in your body? There is no right or wrong way here, just notice what comes up for you. After taking sometime noticing what you are thinking, feeling and sensing, next visualize a time or place you last felt really safe and happy… Go through all your senses: what do you see, feel, hear, smell, and taste at this special safe/happy place? Notice where you feel sensations in your body while visualizing this safe/happy place?  This exercise will naturally stimulate your parasympathetic system, eliciting a relaxation response so try this next time you feel overwhelmed by negative emotions. When feeling calm, take consistent steps to fill your life with safe, nurturing, joyful and trusting relationships and environments because, on the bright side, we can learn to self-regulate no matter how old we are or how negative our relationships have been.

To learn more about my online services, please visit Debra Wallace MS LMFT at WeCounsel .

Take wonderful care of yourself as the world needs you connected and full of joy.

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“A healthy, balanced life requires connection and community, as much as self-regulation and autonomy. Seeking soothing in sorrow, or validation in victory, invites those around us to share their wisdom and love. Like the mother/infant loop, we give and receive regulation when we’re in caring relationships with others. Co-regulation is what makes love, and the world, truly go around.” ~Alexandra Katehakis

If you’d like to learn more about self-regulation, here are some more resources:

Self-regulation doesn’t exist!

How Can We Help Kids With Self-Regulation?

Calming together: The pathway to self-control

7 more myths about self-regulation

Why-self-regulation is most important thing in world

https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/self-differentiation-why-it-matters-in-families-relationships-0831174

Disclaimer

Positive Reframe shares resources with the intent of the positive progression of informed decision making related to issues associated with emotional, relational, physical and spiritual wellness. While I share personal and professional perspectives, my writings reflect my personal opinion and not intended to substitute professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. This online medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and rapport building required for thorough assessment and therapeutic intervention thus the content shared on this page is for informational purposes only. To make well-informed decisions that best meet your family’s unique needs, I highly recommend exploring and researching available options, consulting primary health care providers and seek referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state of Illinois, USA

Negative effects of toxic stress

All negativity comes from a state of stress within our central nervous system. Stress can be an emotional, mental, physical, or chemical stimulus that is prolonged, unpredictable, and/or overwhelming to our body and mind. Stress can come in the form of having big and conflicting emotions at once, lacking skills and not knowing how to handle the situation appropriately, or having unmet needs like nutrition, rest, connection, etc. Any stress that goes on unexpressed, unprocessed, and/or misunderstood can become toxic and traumatic.  Naturally, experiences that involve actual or perceived death or serious injury increases the potential for toxic levels of stress and trauma. Toxic stress and trauma lead to dysregulation which is being in a state of STRESS beyond one’s window of tolerance and does the following:

  • Alters the chemistry and functioning of your mind/body/heart connections;
  • Creates unconscious emotions of fear;
  • Activates stress hormones and flight/flight/freeze mode of reactions;
  • Decreases ability to access higher brain functions (i.e. problem-solving, planning, language, knowing right from wrong etc.)
  • Decreases our tolerance level and increases sensitivity to stress
  • Creates more rigid, inflexible, incoherent, temperamental and chaotic reactions
  • Click the following link for more information on Effects of Toxic Stress

Our natural stress response exists on a continuum from hyper-aroused to hypo-aroused with mild to extreme reactions. Hyper-aroused is when we are over-active, on alert and in fight or flight mode. In this state, we may act out aggressively or feel anxious. Hypo-aroused is when we shut down and are in a state of freeze or collapse mode. In this state, we are disconnected within ourselves and with others. We tend to withdraw and feel numb, empty and/or depressed. Just as we are all different, so are our responses to stress. There are many contextual layers that influence the variance in our responses and the likelihood of negative effects like our window of tolerance, temperament, environment, genetic expression, the availability of protective and supportive relationships along with the presence of risk and resiliency factors.

Our experiences, especially the ones in childhood, create our templates and filters for how to process stimuli and stressors and how to respond. The first three years of life creates the blueprint for all future relationships. Most caregivers do not realize how impactful their reactions, mood, and behaviors are on their children. Children depend on caregivers for everything so if a caregiver is unavailable, angry, depressed, neglectful, out of control or acting in a way the child doesn’t understand, then the child will perceive this as a threat to their livelihood which will activate their stress response system. It is important to note that it doesn’t matter if the stress is a real threat or not as our central nervous system just has to perceive it as a threat. Our perception and interpretation of a current event instantly get filtered through our past lens of experiences and developed belief system. I highly recommend learning more about how Adverse Childhood Experiences affect our health.

From my experience, negative consequences such as conflict, “disorders” and “diseases” are the result of an overstimulated, fearful and dysregulated central nervous system which manifests itself through different reactions and symptoms dependent on our interpersonal neurobiology. This is why they’re so many new diagnoses, disorders, and diseases as they keep evolving along with the dynamics and increase of toxins within our minds, bodies, relationships, environment, and our world.

As a society, we have failed to promote sustainable, compassionate ways to get our vital needs met. We all have vital needs to feel safe, love, connected, heard, and understood. When we meet these needs, then we can naturally calm our central nervous system which allows us to access our higher brain functions and innate intelligence as well as integrate new positive experience and coping skills and even heal past trauma. When we consistently meet these vital needs, our central nervous will become securely integrated. When our brains are well integrated then we can optimally process stimuli, self-regulate, connect as well as enable more intricate functions to emerge like insight, empathy, intuition, and morality. This in-depth level of integration results in greater kindness, resilience, and well-being. We need to be child-wise and relationship-rich society.

To learn more how you can promote sustainable, compassionate ways to get your needs met in your family, check out my post Promoting Resiliency and Connection Tips

You can learn more about me and my online therapeutic services at WeCounsel

Take Wonderful Care,

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Disclaimer: Positive Reframe shares resources with the intent of the positive progression of informed decision making related to issues associated with emotional, relational, physical and spiritual wellness. While I share personal and professional perspectives, my writings reflect my personal opinion and not intended to substitute professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment thus the content shared on this page is for informational purposes only. This online medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and rapport building required for thorough assessment and therapeutic intervention. To make well-informed decisions that best meet your family’s unique needs, I highly recommend exploring and researching available options, consulting primary health care providers and seeking referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state of Illinois, USA

“Only Love Today” and Comfort zone

I started reading Only Love Today” by Rachel Macy Stafford”. It is an absolutely amazing book. So much so, as I was reading it, I found myself repeatedly saying, “Yes!” “I know!” “I do that.” and so on. I set it down for a few weeks as this way of life is truly etched in my being.

Recently, I pushed my son out of his comfort zone to do something he had never done before and it didn’t go as I hoped. I have learned not to be attached to outcomes but his strong negative reaction and feedback caught me off guard. I sadly, took his reaction personally, causing me to react negatively and I struggled to be a compassionate listener for him. I could even see my overreaction and the negative dynamic I was feeding yet I could not stay connected to my wise mind and heart and be there for him as I usually am. This made me feel even worse.

To put things in perspective, only 20 hours had passed since the initial triggering event occurred till the time it took me to feel at ease with it, and I am going through some physical health issues thus unusually wore out. In fact, I was on my way to the hospital for an iron fusion, when I decided to grab the book, “Only Love Today” as my reading material for appointment and travels. I had a feeling it could help ground me and get me back to my center. As soon as I got on the ferry and opened the book to this oh-so-relevant reminder:

 

 

I love synchronicity! Synchronicity is when events seem to somehow magically connect to one another and take on some meaning that provides guidance as they relate to our current emotional states and inner experiences. So there I was on the ferry, with tears streaming down my face, knowing how every word of this is true and exactly what I have been trying to get my son to understand yet my negative reaction fueled our deepest fears.

The more I sat with this, the more tears came but I was acutely aware I was in a public space. I was uncomfortable and vulnerable. Even more synchronous is this uncomfortable and vulnerable situation relates to my son’s recent experience and journey. I am a female and afraid to cry and be emotional, it is even 100 times worse for him. He seems to have inherited my highly sensitive trait. We feel and process deeply as well as absorb and internalize sensory information at overwhelming rates. We are like sponges and find it to be a monumental task to stop the absorption. The best way I have found to slow it down is to take deep breaths, to non-judgementally notice and connect to all my senses, and send compassionate messages to myself and all those involved that counteract the deep fears and irrational core beliefs.

Here’s another quote I really enjoying during these times of transitions:

“This week I invite you to surrender to the cycles of your life and your reality. Accept the beauty of where you are in your lifecycle, whether you are cleansing, purging and renewing or growing, expanding or even ending. Love yourself as you move through change and transition. There is no ‘perfect’ way to navigate through it all. It’s okay to scream and have a temper tantrum if that’s what it takes to get to the other side. Releasing that energy only makes room for clarity and peace. Each step in your journey is really about growth and expansion…May you remember this week to Trust and know you are fully supported on your journey and may you remember that deep underneath all of this experience is really only the grandest expression of pure, unconditional Love.” ~Karen Curry

Change, even when for the better, is uncomfortable and difficult no matter what you do. Like the growing pains of a developing child, their muscles and bones ache from all the quick growing yet they are getting taller and stronger. You can even do everything “right” and it will still cause distress as there are so many variables out of your control. This is the crux of life, learning how to be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. I know that all negative and painful events have inherent value in our lives which will shine through in time when we least expect it.  All the reasons why I made the conscious choice to push my son outside his comfort zone were valid. As hard as it is to know a choice I made upset my child, it is impossible to avoid negativity and I am would not be doing my son any favors by overprotecting him and robbing him of these opportunities to struggle through, grow, and learn from.

Deep breaths, baby steps, embrace fears and love MORE ❤

where the magic happens

You can learn more about me and my services at WeCounsel

Take wonderful care of yourself as the world needs you.

❤ Debra

Disclaimer: Positive Reframe shares resources with the intent of the positive progression of informed decision making related to issues associated with emotional, relational, physical and spiritual wellness. While I share personal and professional perspectives, my writings reflect my personal opinion and not intended to substitute professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. The online medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and rapport building required for thorough assessment and therapeutic intervention. Thus the content shared on this page is for informational purposes only. To make well-informed decisions that best meet your family’s unique needs, I highly recommend exploring and researching available options, consulting primary health care providers, engaging in respectful dialogue with friends and family as well as seek referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state Illinois, USA

 

I have something magical I want to share…

“When someone shares something of value with you, and you benefit from it, you have a moral obligation to share it with others.” Chinese Proverb

You know when you have discovered something that brings you vitality, peace, and joy and you just want to share it with everyone you meet?… That’s how I feel about parenting and committed partnerships. Yet I have noticed that sharing my expertise is sometimes like a double-edged sword. These relationships are a deeply personal and often laden with landmines. The slightest expression of a contradictory belief often sets off a chain of reactions and defense mechanisms. Even sharing a positive reflection or experience can incite unconscious triggers, insecurities, and fears.

My relationships with my children and partner have become a sustainable source of peace, love, trust, security, and nurturance. Now, don’t get me wrong, my partner and still disagree more than agree, and my kids still go through all the challenging stages of development but instead of judging their behavior as something is wrong with them or as a result of something I did (or didn’t do), I am better able to see their perspective and love us all through the upsets more times than not. I know their negative behaviors are normal and/or symptoms of some unprocessed emotions, lack of skill, and/or unmet needs. We all just need a safe place to not to judged and to be heard and understood. Believe me, I know how hard this is to do as I am well trained at it yet still get triggered. And yes, we still have daily stressors, struggles, annoyances, tension, and conflict, yet our relationship is so secure that we can work together more quickly and cohesively to support and resolve in a regenerative way.

Now you want to know my magical formula for improving relationships?… It is taking responsibility for my own crap, projections, triggers and my muddled lens. The more Iintention meme am aware of my innermost thoughts, feelings, demons, and desires, the better able I can connect the dots of my past to my current reactions and learn to respond appropriately to those in my presence. The more at ease I become with distress and my internal dissonance, the more my relationships harmonize and wellbeing improves.

You do not need parenting strategies or communication skills per se because when you give yourself permission to be you and can whole-heartily accept your weaknesses and negative reactions, then your innate intelligence to connect to your wise mind and heart as well as to another soul comes naturally. Your power to influence thus comes from your ability to recognize your own stress signals, to be aware of your thoughts, feelings, reactions and to proactively find healthy, safe, and nurturing ways to consistently get your needs met. Once you have connected to your true power, life seems to flow and expand exponentially. I want to highlight that taking responsibility for processing your stress and getting your needs met has nothing to do with blaming anyone, not even yourself.

The trickiest part to this magical formula is that our negative reactions are often unconscious, meaning we are not aware we are thinking, feeling or doing them. Much of our childhood, especially under the age of seven, gets absorbed unconsciously as well as negative events that have not been processed or have been misunderstood also get stuck in our unconscious brain. Sadly, many of us have not experienced a safe space to process and make sense of our conflicting thoughts, feelings, and events. A safe space where no one wants to criticize, shame, blame, fix, or judge you and lets you, be you.  Ideally, this safe space would be provided by our parents and family of origin, then by our partners. Again this isn’t about blame. You parents did the best they could with the resources they were aware of from their own level of consciousness.

Yet, the reality is that our vulnerable selves are perpetually being bombarded by negative stimuli and messages and we continue to not have enough outlets to process these experiences in order to optimally integrate into our beings. So instead of learning how to process negativity, we are forced to react, shut-down connection, and rely on external objects for coping skills as well as internalize that other’s cannot handle us at our most vulnerable state. The build-up of these unprocessed negative experiences becomes toxic and will get expressed through our behaviors and bodies. Then you combine the added stress of being afraid of upsetting the people you love most and depend on, it is no surprise then that our loved ones become a trigger, constant battle, and a drain.

It’s science, really, when we perceive a threat to our livelihood, our stress response automatically gets activated, negatively affecting our ability to regulate, reason, learn, grow, heal or connect. The more this keeps happening, the stronger the negative patterns and cycles get and the more energy it takes to soothe, process, and re-program. Fortunately, there are many proactive and respectful ways to respond that reduce stress, promote healing and connection as well as and maximize human potential. And even though you are not to blame for what has happened to you in past, you are responsible for what you choose to do today, especially once you become aware of how your actions are affecting your wellbeing and others.

The good news is all negativity can be healed in safe, nurturing, and responsive relationships including the relationship you have with yourself. What are you needing to feel alive, satisfied and joyful? What are your intentions and are your actions, thoughts, and feelings aligning with those intentions?… If not, what is keeping you from being your best connected and authentic self? You are the expert of your own life and deserve to take the time you need to nourish yourself emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

To learn more about my approach to parenting, click here Teaching Responsibility and How couples can thrive through parenting…

You can learn more about me and my services at WeCounsel

Take wonderful care of yourself as the world needs you.

❤ Debra

Disclaimer: Positive Reframe shares resources with the intent of the positive progression of informed decision making related to issues associated with emotional, relational, physical and spiritual wellness. While I share personal and professional perspectives, my writings reflect my personal opinion and not intended to substitute professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Hence the content shared on this page is for informational purposes only as this online medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and rapport building required for thorough assessment and therapeutic intervention. To make well-informed decisions that best meet your family’s unique needs, I highly recommend researching available options, consulting primary health care providers, engaging in respectful dialogue with friends and family as well as seek referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state Illinois, USA

Rethinking the Easter Bunny…

Oh, Easter…my daughter has been egging me (pun intended) about Easter decorations and festivities for weeks now yet sadly I have felt irritated by her need for all of it. I know I am responsible and for good reason and intent. I have been providing magical Easters her whole life because growing up, the Easter bunny and St. Nick coming were some of my most favorite memories. The special time of the year where all my five siblings and parents worked together to create a magical experience. I have no sad story where I learned they weren’t real. Yet for some reason, when I became more conscious about my parenting and I moved a world away from my family of origin, I started to question everything. I began feeling like I was lying to my son and it felt ingenuine.

I had realized all this holiday hullaballoo was a ploy to get us to buy stuff and it hurt me to play the part. I was just about to tell my partner and family that I was done with the charades. I would no longer take part in the Easter bunny or Santa Claus.  About that same time, my son came home from a magical Easter celebration with his Steiner school. His teacher spent all this time to put “actual” rabbit feet prints on his desk, with a special egg hunt and chocolate eggs. The smile on his face and the joy that emanated from his being was unbelievable. Here was a boy who in the span of three years lost three baby-siblings, three dogs and two cats, his most beloved pets who we needed to rehome for our international move. He moved from the only place he’s ever lived to a new country where they struggled to understand his speech and mannerisms.  Those magical rabbit prints seem to bring light to him where he had been cracked. It made me second guess my decision to end the Easter Bunny and Santa celebrations. I like to make my decisions from a place of love and not fear. I was reminded of what these times meant to me and how I never felt lied to or hurt. I only felt love and joy, so I decided I had no right to deprive my son and future children of this experience, especially when it was so special for me.

My current dread for my daughter’s pressure to perform these duties was coming from a place of fear and stress. I am about to have surgery and a bit wore out. I had lost touch with the magic and was annoyed that it was the consumerism part she seemed to be enjoying most. Everything I do must have meaning so I was conflicted because as much as I love Jesus, we do not celebrate him like how this holiday does. I also now live in the southern hemisphere where it is Autumn so the whole fertility and Spring aspect doesn’t seem to fit. And the eggs here are brown!?…Not the easiest to dye like how I remember. I was processing my feelings aloud with my son, who is now a 13-year wise soul acknowledged my feelings and asked me some reflective questions. Talking with him reminded me why I made the conscious chose to continue celebrating.

So today, I set up the dyes, bought the special treats and made the baskets to “secretly” fill tonight. Now, I still need to align with my beliefs thus I “reduce, reuse and recycle” by limiting what I buy, choose fair-trade chocolate and make the decorations and baskets with my kids. My family gladly pulled away from their video screen to partake. For one hour, we bonded whilst dying 10 eggs and making decorations. It was pure joy and attention. Our tradition is to keep hiding the eggs for endless Easter egg hunts and more family fun. This is why we do this every year… It has become a rhythm of our collective soul, a constant in our life, something to look forward to and count on no matter what. I strongly believe we all could do with more of these mindful moments. This time is precious and worth the extra effort and attention.

“We didn’t realize we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun”     –Winnie The Pooh.

Here’s another post I wrote about Negative thoughts, Easter, and Rising Again

What energy are you emitting as a parent?

Speaking from personal experience, every time my child would act out, I would automatically have the negative thought of “What is wrong with him/her!?” which very quickly turned to “What is wrong with me!?” and “How could I have a child act this way!?” Their negative behaviors triggered my insecurities. When in reality, all these negative behaviors were and are normal processes of a central nervous learning to integrate in an often confusing, chaotic, overstimulating, toxic, and judgmental world.

My mission in life is to maximize human potential and heal transgenerational trauma so I take providing safe and nurturing environments for all human beings very seriously. I have been able to rewire my automatic negative thoughts and connect with love, trust, and empathy. I can easily remember and connect to how I felt as a child in similar situations allowing me to know exactly how to respond to them. I believe positive intent, 42085313_10161108062170107_2361642485588951040_olower myself to below or at their eye level, and say things like, “Wow, something must have happened to make you feel this way.” “What can I do to help you?” or “Would you like a hug?” then hold my tongue, breathe and really, really listen to what my child is saying by periodically and briefly reflecting back what I am hearing without adding my opinions or solutions.

This is by no means an easy feat and takes a lot of practice and fine tuning, yet when I am able to genuinely be present, it works every single time. Notice the words “genuinely be present” these are key because I can say and do all the “right” things yet if my mind, body, and heart are not aligned, creating disharmony within my being, then that’s the frequency that gets transmitted to my child. Children are 100% tuned into their caregiver’s mood, state of stress, and resonance as their livelihood depends on it. Resonating and amplifying of disharmony is also completely normal and to be expected as raising a child is 24/7, and the energy and transformational opportunities are endless. You need the contrasting signals to know where to fine tune. You do you and trust the process. Peace begins with you.

Check out my link on how to tune in to promote resiliency and connection

❤ Debra

You can learn more about me and my services here at WeCounsel

Disclaimer

Positive Reframe shares resources with the intent of the positive progression of informed decision making related to issues associated with emotional, relational, physical and spiritual wellness. While I share personal and professional perspectives, my writings reflect my personal opinion and not intended to substitute professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Thus the content shared on this page is for informational purposes only as this online medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and rapport building required for thorough assessment and therapeutic intervention.  To make well-informed decisions that best meet your family’s unique needs, I highly recommend exploring and researching available options, consulting primary health care providers as well as seek referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state of Illinois, USA

one generation

Positive Reframe on Risk-Taking

“If children feel safe, they can take risks, ask questions, make mistakes, learn to trust, share their feelings, and grow.” ~Alfie Kohn

I ran across this article from NPR Is It Time To Bring Risk Back Into Our Kids’ Playgrounds? and I say ‘Yes’ and not just at playgrounds but in life! Risk-taking is a healthy, life-long skill which builds confidence and competence, especially when kids are younger as their brains are doing the most development and the consequences are typically smaller. Overprotecting inhibits natural growth and resilience. How are kids suppose to learn if they can’t experience the decision-making process and the consequences of those choices? There is also no need to punish or add more shame to these experiences like the sadly common reaction of lectures and “I told you so” or “You should know better”.

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My daughter rock climbed to the top.

Children learn when allowed to feel the full range of emotions and natural consequences of the experience and have the presence of a nurturing and responsive adult who can hold space for them as they process their own thoughts, feelings, and actions as well as gently guide the child to their own wisdom. I also recommended ‘scaffolding’ whereby you break new skills into manageable and reasonable steps as well as creating opportunities that are just out of their comfort zone yet within reach of their skill level and have supports in place. Even knowing this, I still get tripped up and my fears make me overreact. My interference sends the message that I don’t trust my kids and that I can’t handle my emotions.

Fortunately, my kids and I have such a secure relationship that they can tell me when I am interfering and I back off and trust them. They really know what they are capable of and want to learn. And when they ask for help from me on things I know they are capable of but are frustrated or unmotivated, and I am in a regulated state, I say, “I trust you to work it out and I wouldn’t want to rob you of the joy you’ll get when you figure it out:)” They don’t always like that response yet they have been able to experience the joy and trust so accept it. They also know that I would be right there for them when they truly need it. If I am in a dysregulated state, then I tend to go off on my emotions to which they reply, “You can just say ‘No’ mom. I don’t need to hear all that.” If we are both dysregulated, then we each react out of our own stress response and unable to connect until one is calm enough. Deep breaths, baby steps and enjoy the ride of parenting and embracing the child within ❤

Here are some related resources:

https://www.backwoodsmama.com/2018/02/stop-telling-kids-be-careful-and-what-to-say-instead.html

http://childnature.ca/when-you-want-to-say-be-careful/

https://1000hoursoutside.com/1/post/2019/03/the-hidden-risks-of-avoiding-risky-play.html

Here is a link to a free download of the book No Fear: Growing up in a risk-averse society by Tim Gill  https://rethinkingchildhood.com/no-fear/

Take Wonderful Care of Yourself and Family!

Debra

Positive Reframe Online Services at WeCounsel

Disclaimer

Positive Reframe shares resources with the intent of the positive progression of informed decision making related to issues associated with emotional, relational, physical and spiritual wellness. While I share personal and professional perspectives, my writings reflect my personal opinion and not intended to substitute professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. The online medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and rapport building required for thorough assessment and therapeutic intervention. Thus the content shared on this page is for informational purposes only. To make well-informed decisions that best meet your family’s unique needs, I highly recommend exploring and researching available options, consulting primary health care providers, engaging in respectful dialogue with friends and family as well as seek referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state Illinois, USA

The missing ingredient to parenting challenges…

If you have followed my page then you would know that when it comes to parenting challenges, I highly advocate for self-soothing, emotional intelligence, connection, and collaborative problem solving (check out How To Get Calm and Collaborative & Proactive Solutions for more information). As I have mastered these skills, which have made a tremendous difference in my relationship with my kids, and upon further reflection, I noticed that there was still something else integral to their well-being. It was something I was lacking in various situations as I was able to be calm and empathetic yet they were still extra challenging or losing it.

Fortunately, I discovered what it was: self-confidence.

If I have any shred of doubt or ambivalence in my self or my decision, my kids will attack incessantly as they are confident with what they want and can sense my weakness. Or they absolutely crumble with the overwhelmingness of making a decision they do not feel ready to make and terrified of doing something that could risk failure or disappoint me.

When I have alignment of my intentions, thoughts, feelings, and actions, then there is clarity and certainty in my responses. When I trust myself and my decisions, then my kids just get it. You can feel their calm and acceptance even if they are not happy with the decision. They trust me and feel secure. It feels like magic. Now, if only I could feel confident all the time, which fortunately is where self-compassion comes into to help 🙂

Take Wonderful Care,

Debra

Getting on the same page…

My partner and I recently celebrated 20 years of marriage, or as  like to joke, 20 years of hiss and bliss, jeers and cheers, and ups and downs. Unconditional love is amazing yet commitment to it to is hard. The inherent reward is hidden in the gut-wrenching process of self-improvement, intense discourse, and repair.  It has taken great effort and positive intentions to heal past wounds, un-learn negative conditioning, rewrite narratives and resolve many, many conflicts. We have traversed serious medical issues, grieved babies, lost dreams, financial woes, and international moves.

I liken the development of our relationship to being from different sections in a library and we met in the music section. It felt exhilarating to meet someone who liked the same music as me along with some other interests. Suddenly, I didn’t feel alone anymore, like someone got me. We connected, we danced, we found our groove, then life happened, reality set in, stressors, triggers, negative events, and new experiences. Gradually, I realized that my partner likes other music that I can’t stand, and actually enjoys more of my least favorite sections in the library, on a whole other level from me. We began to disagree more, coming from totally different perspectives, not understanding each other, we gradually wandered off more and more to our desired sections of the library. I began to wonder who this person was, how did we ever get along, and what the heck am I doing here in this section alone, resentful and confused? Did I even have the energy or the will to enter my partner’s section? And why can’t he come to my section more?…

You can read my blog How couples can thrive through parenting…to learn what motivated me to go to my partner’s section more and it wasn’t till about the 14th year of being together that I felt we got in the same book. Now into our 21st year, we actually get on the same page and even same line on a regular basis, on many subjects. We still need and enjoy our favorite sections yet we now value and visit each other’s sections often as well created new sections together. We sing and dance as a family.

All my research in relationships, neuroscience, trauma, and attachment gave me faith that it was worth the discomfort and seemingly endless, intense discourse. Seeing how our children relate and reflect on our relationship and family is music to my ears and daily living proof. One comment that sticks out that my son made was, “I use to think you and Dad argued a lot, then I started to notice other families and wow, do others not get along. You two really try to understand each other and work it out.” He was moved to share this with me as his dad and I were in the middle of one our discourses, each taking space to calm down and he wanted to provide encouragement. What he noticed is my legacy that I have worked passionately to give my children and everyone I work with: Anything is possible when we feel safe and understood. Let go, fear less, love more and trust the process. Deep breaths, baby steps ❤ Debra

Click here to discover Five Steps to a Positive Reframe

You can find more information about my experience here on my Vita.

I’ve added a video counseling service called Wecounsel. Now we can meet wherever it’s most convenient for you. All you need is a computer and broadband internet access. It’s secure and accepted by major health insurance companies.

Please visit Debra Wallace MS LMFT at Wecounsel to learn more. I can only see Illinois residents via Wecounsel.

International clients can find me at https://www.ring.md/doctor_profiles/debra-wallace

If you have any questions please contact me:

Debra@positivereframe.org

847.603.4677   USA

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Disclaimer

Positive Reframe shares resources with the intent of the positive progression of informed decision making related to issues associated with emotional, relational, physical and spiritual wellness. While I share personal and professional perspectives, my writings reflect my personal opinion and not intended to substitute professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. The online medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and rapport building required for thorough assessment and therapeutic intervention. Thus the content shared on this page is for informational purposes only. To make well-informed decisions that best meet your family’s unique needs, I highly recommend exploring and researching available options, consulting primary health care providers, engaging in respectful dialogue with friends and family as well as seek referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state Illinois, USA