You finally managed to find the time to scrub a reddish brownish stain out of your couch.
It could have been ketchup.
Might have been fruit juice.
May be something else from a really long time ago that has since turned that reddish brownish color.
Nevertheless, you got it out and are taking a 30 second to bask in your glory.
You take a satisfied look, smile to yourself, and head to the bathroom.
As you are about to wash your hands, you hear the front door open and the pitter-patter of shoes…heading straight to your clean couch!
Soapy hands and all you burst out of the bathroom, but it’s too late.
Shoes (with little humans in them of course) are already on the couch.
Along with little bits of mud, grass, and god-knows-what-else.
We are designed to have a specific physiological response to that scenario:
When we get upset, feel threatened, or are in a particularly unpleasant and undesired situation, stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine coarse through your body.
Your blood is shunted to the extremities.
Your heart rate increases.
Your muscles tighten and may even grip.
You might feel red in the face, or hear your heart beating as if it were in your ears instead of your chest.
That’s called our fight-or-flight response, and it’s a normal function of the sympathetic nervous system when we experience a situation we were hoping to avoid.
Luckily, the body’s best buddy is your brain (try saying that five times fast!).
The brain is looking out for things that make the body react as described above.
The brain processes the situation, and send messages back to the body about how to react accordingly.
Neuroscientists call this process self-regulation.
Self-regulation is what keeps you from punishing your kids for putting their feet on your clean couch.
Although your body is sending all physiological signals of anger or frustration, your brain is what says “Hey, the muddy shoes belong to your kids. You love them. They are kids. They didn’t do it on purpose.”
And your body responds to your brain by calming down.
Sometimes, the calming down doesn’t go so well.
We might still yell, or chastise, or just let out a huffy sigh and walk away.
We might feel angry at our kids, or frustrated with the situation.
Or even mad at ourselves.
My good friend Sarah Rosenweet has a whole blog dedicated to figuring out how to handle these types of situations.
She recently asked me to write a guest post about the strategies you can use to help increase your ability to recognize the triggers your body sends and self-regulate your response.
Now, I know your kid might not even be old enough to wear those muddy shoes I described or even be able to get onto the couch themselves.
Think of these as tools for the future!
Click here to check out my top three strategies for keeping your cool when you’re on the brink of rage a.k.a. self regulation
BONUS – they take less than 2 minutes each to do, so try one out and let me know how it goes : )