1:41PM Nov 18, 2021
Big transitions can lead to big emotions for people of all ages. Yet maybe you noticed this even more regularly, say at school drop offs or pickups, or maybe even at bedtime. What if you had some tools to help your child manage their big feelings, and in fact, even end up feeling more connected to you.
I'm Megan Eskander. And I'm Kate Mullican. And this is raising reciprocity where we believe raising children is a form of activism.
Thank you so much for joining us for our fifth episode. Today, we will be discussing ways to support your child's emotional regulation and your own two, we have two strategies to share with you today. But before we dive too far into that, I would like to just apologize to you for not getting any episodes out to you last month, we actually had recorded two episodes, because we knew that I was going to be traveling, I got to have the amazing experience of going to eat it last month, and we had recorded and we're planning on using them while I was gone. And then it wasn't until after I left that we realized that we had some technological difficulties, and those recordings didn't work. So that meant we didn't get any episodes out in October. And that was really disappointing to us. I'm sure to you too. So I want to apologize for that we have a lot of content that we're looking forward to sharing with you. And I'm back and we're ready to roll again. So hopefully, we'll be getting content out to you regularly. And we have so much to share. And I will share more about my trip and traveling with children and future episodes.
But today, we're going to be focusing on two strategies to help with emotional and stress regulation. And those are called special time and filling the bucket. So we'll go into that a little bit deeper. And you might be wondering how these strategies would help link to this activist mindset for parenting podcast. But really, it probably isn't that far of a stretch to think about how emotionally intelligent children will grow up to be an emotionally intelligent adults, and how that would be better for our worlds. I think we can all probably imagine a place that would be better if everyone was able to manage their own stress and their own emotions and how that would bring them to a place of curiosity about other people's experiences, and develop empathy and interest in helping others. So without further ado, first we will be talking about special times. So Kate, would you like to get us started?
For sure. So a special time was created by hand in hand parenting a nonprofit out of San Francisco, you can find them online at hand in hand parenting.org. Their founder is Patty with flirt. And lucky for us thanks to YouTube, there are several tutorials that she leads along with several of her colleagues. And we're just going to give you the nitty gritty about special time. If it piques your interest in you start playing around with it with your own kiddos, feel free to look them up. And they even run courses sometimes on it.
So in a nutshell, special time is a tool that you would set up regularly with your child. And it's where you set aside a specific amount of time and you tell your child, no, this next 10 minutes, maybe it's just five, maybe it's as much as 20. But you set aside that time where you are giving your child your undivided attention. And you literally set a timer. This is not a time for any screen use. This is a time where your child gets to pick the activity that you would be doing. So that may or may not be something that gels with you. So you know maybe sitting on the couch reading a book with them feels great to you and that's what they pick when when maybe they want to open up the fridge and pull out all sorts of crazy stuff and make some kind of weird combination and watch what it's like to have you eat a bite and them a bite and you know, and that's maybe not at all appealing to you but because they get to lead the show during that set period of time. You roll with it. Now, quick aside of course if they want to do something that is ridiculously unsafe, you are going to put an end to that. Can they pick Watching TV with you know, watching TV is very dysregulated. You know, watching their favorite YouTubers very dysregulated. So you're looking to use special time for connection. So if that means they're going to see if during special time they can get away with something that maybe you would put the kibosh on you're going to go ahead and let them as long as it's not safe, or really rubbing up against a core family value. As long as it's that unsafe, correct, as long as it's not unsafe, what that might look like, let's say your child has a really hard time in the morning, getting up out of bed, transitioning to the table for some food and getting out the door on time. Well, maybe you build in five minutes of special time in the morning, maybe evenings, the rush of, you know, the the transition after school, and then kind of like the decompression time, but then the rush of the dinner in the evening activities and stuff. Maybe there's a way to fit in five or 10 minutes there. And do you have to do this every day? No, you know, you would work out a schedule that you could actually commit to, and have to, you have to really commit to that. So your child can, over time, depend on it, know that it's coming.
And what will happen is that special timeout, and that beeper will go off the time is over. And it's pretty unlikely that your kiddo is going to say, Gosh, mom, that was awesome. Or Hey, Dad, can't wait to do it again. No, you can probably predict they are going to have a fit. That fit could be a small fit, it could be a big fit. But you have to plan for the fact that that is going to take up more time. This is a critical piece. Because for you to stay in the correct frame of mind for special time to work, you have to plan for the fact that your child is not going to like it when special time ends. Right?! Of course, they love your undivided attention. They want more and more and more of it, they're going to beg for more of it.
So why on earth would you offer them something to only then set the limit and trigger a fit? Well, according to the philosophy of hand in hand parenting, you're setting this up, you're architecting it in a way that allows for this emotional release. If you walked a day in your child's shoes, I think you would be amazed at how often they are spoken to in a command, right, they're given so many directions throughout the day. And when you give them a chance to lead special time, that feels amazingly good for them. Of course, they don't want it to end. But by setting the boundary and holding space for them to have their meltdown, you're giving them that release valve on their day, or their week, if you do special time once a week, right. And that is so important. Your job during that meltdown, you don't have to fix anything, you're there to listen, just hold space for them, let them have that, you know, like I said the release. And over time, what's going to happen is they come to count on that the fits will probably shorten or even go away. And you've created a link for them that they know they can come to you in this space that you're going to hold that's not judging, just letting them vent it out. And what a gift what a gift you can give them when you do that. What thoughts does this bring up for you, Megan?
I just think that, Well, the main thing is the consistency. Whenever you decide to set up as your special time, just make sure that you it's something that you can like really follow through on if you can do it for 10 minutes every day, great, do it but if you know that really is gonna be probably more likely five minutes twice a week, then commit to that. But whatever you tell your child you're going to do you have to do it is very important that they're getting that consistency so that they can trust that they're going to have it or that it's going to lead to other issues. And also the no screen time is so important. Like they really they spend so much time watching adults on devices and it's just constantly reinforcing the message to them that devices are very important and obviously they are because everywhere you look Everyone's on their device, you know. So having time, even five or 10 minutes, where they're seeing the adults just directly interacting with them, and they're getting to choose what to do is so powerful. But really the most important thing is that release. I can't remember where I heard this, but I've just, it's stuck with me because I just find it so fascinating that if you are like examining tears that come from, you know, if you're like chopping an onion, and your eyes are watering, and you take those tears versus tears from when you're crying, because you're like having an emotional release, the tears from the cry of the emotional release actually have toxins in them, like you're physically getting those toxins out of your body. And I just thought that was so fascinating. And so if you think about how important it is for the children to learn, not only that, it's okay, most importantly, that it's okay, you know, how often when we were growing up, are we told just to, like, stop crying about it, or they're gonna give us something to cry about being taught to repress all of those emotions, and how that has not served us as people or society, teaching the children that yeah, it's okay, like, Yes, I'm holding the space for you to let that out, and how that's going to actually save you time later. Because that is an architect, it's time and space for them to have that release, when you're planning on it, not when you're walking out the door, or trying to go to bed, or you know, when that's actually going to happen, because the stress has just become so high that they can't handle it anymore, which is why those big releases happen at transitions you're dropping off at school, it's like they can't take it anymore. They're they've run out of their resources to manage the stress that's coming in, which is going to lead very nicely into what I want to talk about,
which is filling the bucket. So the idea of like, every time you have a little resource, right, like you pour it in the bucket, so like a big hug, or like some special time, special time would really fill your bucket, right. And every time you have a little stress, you're pouring a little bit of it out. So say you wake up in the morning, and you get a big hug from your mom, and dad. And then you get to have a nice, healthy breakfast, and you had a good night's sleep. And all of this is like filling your bucket, right. So you have lots of resources to deal with the day. And then you you know, stub your toe. And so you pour a little out, and then your mom's like, Nope, I'm taking you to school, and I'm not gonna see you until tomorrow because I have to go out of town. So like pour a little bit more of that out. So if you get to the point where you have nothing left to pour out, like all the resources are gone, then that's when the child's or the adults, you know, whoever they run out of their resources to manage the amount of stress that's coming in, they're going to have some sort of breakdown, or release. So what we want to do is really make sure that the bucket remains full, we're constantly putting more and more resources in. So then as that stress comes in, they also they have other resources to deal with it and to manage it, there is a book called Filling your bucket or fill your bucket, or have you filled your bucket today. I think there's several different ones. But there is one that we had in our classroom. It's a book by Mary reck Meyer and Tom Rath will have a link for that in our show notes. And it just has some fun ideas about ways that you can fill your bucket. But it's also important to think about how the adults are filling their buckets. Because if our buckets are full, then we're going to have more resources to deal with when our children's buckets run out, right. So if the child is having a tantrum, and you're also losing it, then that is just not helping anything, right. So we also want to be making sure that we're filling our own buckets, and that it's gonna take a little time for you to just think about what does that for, you know, for me, I really like to go for walks and be in nature and hang out with my friends. But for you, it might be like painting or playing video games or watching movies or whatever it is, I mean that we want to just think about the things that really fill us up and identify and those are our children. So for our kids the most. I mean, the best way to fill up our kids buckets is to spend quality time with them. So the special time is the best way. But also just practical things like getting enough sleep, good nutrition, regular bowel movements, all of these things like if they're not getting those things, then that's going to be stressful. So we want to be giving them the resources so that they can manage the stress that comes in What do you want to add to that? Kate,
I wanted to say that in terms of the adults bucket being ready and full of resources to be available for your children, special time might actually be a scenario for you where it's taking some out of your bucket. And so paying attention to that, because if you know you have scheduled with your child, and it's a commitment you've made to them, maybe you need to do one of those things that helps fill your cup before you go do special time. Because don't be surprised if special time ends up being something that's hard for you, it can be very hard to not flow into our habits of Go Go Go checking off the to do list, keeping things running, answering the dings from the phone or the computer beeps at you, right? So that can be really tricky. It can be a bit of a drain for some of us doing special time. So if you can think of something that helps resource you before you're making yourself available to your child for special time, they these two ideas can go hand in hand in that way. And so maybe it is, you know, checking in with a call with one of your trusted family members or friends or colleagues. it might be a treat of something that you get, some quiet time, or some something that you enjoy indulging in. Who knows, but the the idea is that they can go hand in hand. And don't be too surprised if special time feels hard for you. It feels hard for a lot of US adults.
Yeah, that's such a good point. Just remember, you can't pour from an empty cup, right, so fill your cup first. And then you'll be able to have more space to give it is hard to stop the clock and just focus and then it's hard to witness your child having a tantrum, too. But the more space and grace you can get to that growth. In the beginning, the less you'll see of it as you're moving along, because they'll have their cup full enough that they'll be able to manage those stresses as they come in, and know that it's safe to release it when they need to. We really hope that you found these two strategies helpful we certainly have in our parenting and in our work with young children.
So join us on social media let us know if you give special time ago and what questions are arising for you as you try it out. Or hey, what if we get a list going of how you fill your bucket.
If you have other ideas or things that work for you, please share it with us on social media. We're at Raising Reciprocity on Instagram and Facebook.
And we can start looking at one another's ideas right there. Thanks for joining us today. Hope you've had a chance to learn something new here. It's time for you to hit the subscribe button and we want to thank you for listening.