We defined self regulation and dysregulation in my last post. I want to talk about coregulation today. Psychologist Alan Fogel describes coregulation as the “continuous unfolding of individual action that is susceptible to being continuously modified by the continuously changing actions of the partner.” “Don’t rile up your brothers and sister!” was heard more than a few times in my childhood home. Teachers observe this dynamic in their classrooms every day and develop management strategies to minimize its distraction from learning.
However, can we take a moment now to consider that in our hurried, pressured lives perhaps we don’t always recognize that our adult behavior has an equal or maybe greater effect on our children’s behavior than either that of their siblings or peers? If so, shouldn’t we spend some time becoming aware of our own dysregulation triggers; developing coping strategies; and, thus improving our ability to self regulate? I think so!
“When you start at a “9″ it doesn’t take much to get to a “10″.
I credit Rose Montie, an extraordinary teacher of children on the autism spectrum, with the above quote. She has been my closest friend for more than 25 years. She first said it to me 17 years ago when I was a new mother struggling with the demands of my infant daughter. I have heard it from her hundreds of times since then as I have continued to struggle to bring my beautiful, brilliant girl to a well-adjusted and productive young adulthood. I silently chant it like a mantra whenever she is jumping on my last nerve and I become aware of my body’s cues that tell me that I am about to lose it – holding my breath, the overwhelming urge to fight or flee, etc. It reminds me to immediately take the necessary steps to get myself to a number less than 5. Please use it if you think that it will help you.
I firmly believe that many times dysregulation results from unmet basic needs like those for food, water, clean air, comfortable shelter, sleep, the ability to go to the bathroom, and emotional and physical safety. Unmet needs quickly get us to a “9″. An external stress pushes us right to a “10″. Thus, the “Mommy Meltdown Basket”.
Simply put, the “Mommy Meltdown Basket” is a collection of items that help calm you. It’s like the airplane’s oxygen masks that drop out of the panel above your head in the event of that something very bad has happened. You are advised to first secure your own mask before you assist others.
I actually have two baskets – one for home and one for the car. My basket includes chocolate (Godiva), flowers (gerbera daisies), a coloring book and crayons (Books-A-Million carries beautiful ones for grown ups), my favorite lemonade glass (Mason jar with a handle), herbal tea, music (from Stress Free Kids), and my favorite book (To Kill A Mockingbird and soon its sequel). Yours may have essential oils, stress balls, balloons or a bubble machine. It doesn’t matter as long as you include items that will soothe each of your five senses and that will nourish your sense of well-being.
My challenge to you is to start assembling your basket TODAY! And, please leave me a comment with your favorite “Mommy Meltdown Basket” item as it may inspire others.
Yours in peace! — LauraTags: autism, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, parenting, self regulation