My Parenting handbook

Parenting Hadnbook

Chapter 2

Chapter 2: Big Feelings and Why They're Important

In this chapter you will understand the “anatomy” of emotions and why our children seem to experience emotions in such a dramatic way, how a child develops emotion regulation from co-regulating with their parent (and a step-by-step guide on how to facilitate that), and what can happen in the brain when we don’t need our children’s emotional needs.

A child’s emotional system is central to their psychological and physical well-being. An emotional system ridden with stress can impact not only a child’s mental health, but also their immune system, the inflammatory response in body, and even their mortality.

There are no positive or negative emotions; all emotions serve a purpose and act as a guidance system for your child as they navigate the intricacies of life. Emotions are meant to be transient, to come and go like waves in the ocean. Our job as parents is to make space for these feelings, and with attunement and compassion, the emotions will gradually retreat back into the depths of the human experience. As Dan Millman says: “Life without emotions would be as calm as death, like a world without weather”.

One of the ultimate goals of parenting is nurturing a safe space for our children to flourish. Stress and other overwhelming feelings, if not released with connection and compassion, can curtail this developmental process. When a child experiences feelings of overwhelm, translated in the body as “I am not safe,” they need us to come alongside them. The safety of our presence will allow the crucial physiological release their body needs to return to baseline and brings the child to a state of physical and emotional safety.

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