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5 Tips to Help Parents Identify and Regulate Their Emotions

Herzog, EricaBy Erica Herzog, LMFT
Supervisor of Family Preservation, KVC Kansas

This article from the KVC Institute for Health Systems Innovation is the second in an 12-part series on parenting skills. See previous articles.


What would life would be like if emotions did not exist? Would we have meaning in our lives? What would our relationships look like? Would we appear to be nothing more than robots simply existing? Although emotions can be complex and difficult to manage at times, they can also be positive and motivating. Emotions play a very significant role in how we experience life, create relationships and form our individuality.

Interpersonal relationships, such as between a parent and a child or between adults, can either be hindered or enhanced by the emotions we have. Regulating, or adjusting, our emotions affects how we’re perceived by people around us.

Identifying your emotions is the first step to regulating them. The next time you find yourself responding to an emotional situation, answer these questions to increase your emotion awareness:

  1. What are you feeling physically in your body? (heart is racing, face is getting hot, decreased breathing)
  2. What specific emotion is this?
  3. Why did this emotion come up for you? (such as a new situation or a memory of an earlier experience)
  4. On a scale from 0 – 10 (0 being the least intense, 10 being the most intense), how would you rate the intensity of your emotion?
  5. What can you do in the moment to bring your emotion to a regulated state? (such as take a walk, think of a positive memory, call a friend, play with your child)

When you are experiencing intense emotions, try to bring yourself to a regulated state using these strategies:

  1. Count deep breaths
  2. Disengage from the situation until calm
  3. Respond, don’t react
  4. Tell yourself, “I can manage this”

Interested in seeing if these strategies work for you? Download this Emotions Tracking sheet!

Emotion identification and regulation is one of twelve skills taught in the Parent Management Training- Oregon (PMTO) model. PMTO is developed on forty years of research and practice with the core belief that parents are their children’s best teachers. KVC teaches this empowering evidence-based practice to parents and caregivers involved in the child welfare system, but the lessons learned from this model can be beneficial for any parent or caregiver. To learn about PMTO in Kansas, visit the Kansas Department for Children and Families’ website.

Read the other articles in this parenting skills blog series.

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