Mental Health Series

Emotional Regulation - Part 1: Recognizing What’s Wrong

This series equips parents with tools to help their children master emotional regulation, emphasizing the importance of maintaining balanced emotional energy to avoid anxiety, anger, or depression.

You’ll learn key tools to help you and your child recognize and manage stress and anxiety. Understanding and managing energy levels helps parents guide their children toward balanced emotional regulation.

Key Takeaways for Parents


Understanding Emotional Regulation:

Emotional regulation is an ongoing journey that involves recognizing and embracing one's emotional state before attempting to control it. It's a continuous process of learning and practicing.

Importance of Emotional Regulation:

Emotional regulation is crucial for success and well-being. It is described as the "key to life," highlighting its significance over other skills or knowledge parents might emphasize.

Function of Emotions:

Emotions are essentially electrical signals that trigger energy and motion (e-motion). They motivate us to take action and are fundamental to our responses and behavior.

Impact on Mental Health:

Inward-directed emotions, whether high or low in energy, can negatively impact mental health. High energy directed inward can cause anxiety or anger, while low energy directed inward can lead to sadness or depression.

Energy Management:

It is vital to manage the flow and intensity of energy. High energy levels can lead to emotional collapse if sustained too long, while very low energy can lead to depression. Finding a balance is key.

Bell Curve of Productivity:

Both low and high energy levels can result in low productivity. Moderate, well-regulated energy is optimal for maintaining high productivity and emotional stability.

Practical Application:

Engage children in activities like deep breathing, body scans, and using tools like the Think-a-Rator to help them recognize and manage their emotions. These practices help them become more aware of their emotional and physical states.

Parental Role:

Parents play a crucial role in helping their children find the "Goldilocks Zone" for their emotions—not too high, not too low, but just right. By teaching and modeling emotional regulation strategies, parents can guide their children towards healthier emotional responses and greater emotional resilience.

Emotional Regulation Tools

These tools collectively help children and parents navigate their complex emotions, fostering better emotional regulation and mental well-being.

Body Scan

The Body Scan is a mindfulness technique aimed at helping older children and adults recognize the physical signs of stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions in their bodies. The process involves:

  1. Finding a comfortable position, either sitting or standing.
  2. Taking slow, deep breaths to relax and focus.
  3. Bringing attention to different parts of the body, starting from the feet and moving upwards.
  4. Observing the sensations in each area, noting any tension or discomfort.
  5. Using this awareness to identify emotional states and facilitate relaxation.

This practice helps individuals become more aware of their bodily sensations, which can be indicative of their emotional states, and aids in managing and releasing tension.

Give me a Squeeze

“Give me a Squeeze” is a simple, tactile technique designed for younger children to help them communicate their emotional state. This method involves:

  1. The child squeezing an object, like a parent’s hand or a stress ball, to demonstrate the intensity of their emotions.
    Parents can gauge the child’s emotional state based on the strength and frequency of the squeezes.
  2. This physical expression provides an outlet for emotions and helps parents understand their child’s feelings without the need for verbal communication.
  3. This tool is particularly useful for children who may not yet have the vocabulary to express their emotions verbally.


The Think-a-Rator is a tool to help children of all ages rate the importance of events and regulate their emotional responses accordingly. This method includes:

  1. Encouraging the child to rate the significance of an event or issue on a scale from 0 to 10.
  2. Helping the child assign appropriate emotional energy to the event based on its rating.
  3. Teaching the child to distinguish between minor and major issues, thus learning to manage their emotions more effectively.

The Think-a-Rator helps children develop a more balanced approach to their emotions by assessing situations realistically and responding proportionately.