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The Importance of Emotional Regulation as a Parent

Managing your own emotions can help foster your child’s potential to succeed.

Key points

  • Children who grow up in emotionally volatile environments feel unsafe; which impairs their social, emotional, and academic performance.
  • You are the biggest influence on your child’s potential to succeed personally, interpersonally, and professionally.
  • Good emotional regulation is linked to good physical and mental health, strong relationships, and professional success.
  • It’s not too late to improve! Professional help can help you regulate your own emotions and behaviors, improve your home environment, and strengthen your parent-child relationship for years to come!

When a parent is unable to regulate his own emotions, children feel it. Over time, it can erode their self-confidence, and affect their emotional well-being and success in life.

The #1 factor in your children’s success

All healthy parents want their children to succeed in life. Most parents invest considerable time, money, and effort in ferrying their children to numerous extracurricular activities. Almost none of those activities carry any guarantee of long-term happiness or success.

You and your co-parent are the most significant factors that predict lifelong happiness in your children. Kids watch and mimic their parents’ ability to regulate their emotional and behavioral responses to life’s challenges.

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What emotional regulation is (and what it’s not)

Emotional regulation is the ability to manage your emotions in a healthy way. It involves the capacity to recognize, understand, and handle your emotions constructively, manage your stress in a healthy way, and adapt to challenges in a way that promotes resilience and well-being.

Emotional regulation does not assume that life always goes your way or that circumstances always align as you’d like. Rather, emotional regulation challenges you to grow and adapt in an emotionally healthy way when life doesn’t go as you’d like and to respond appropriately to challenges when faced with significant stress and difficulties in life.

Perhaps more than any other profession, emotional regulation is critical for parents

In most professions, you interact primarily with other adults who have already developed their emotional responses, and who for the most part will not sustain any long-term effect from your emotional outbursts. However, children look to you for guidance about how to feel about and interact with the world around them. This means that your emotional reactions to life’s challenges provide the baseline for how your children will respond to similar events they have to deal with in the future! 

While it’s true that with therapy and astute introspection and practice, they can learn to challenge their innate responses, it is indisputably easier to establish healthy foundations from the outset that will equip them with the social and emotional maturity to weather life’s stresses and succeed in life. 

The dangers of emotional dysregulation, on parents and children

Parents are constantly bombarded with stressors, from their work and personal lives to the demands of raising children. Parents who are unable to regulate their own emotions effectively are more likely to experience stress, burnout, and depression. 

Their children are more likely to learn unhealthy coping strategies, which can affect the child’s physical and mental health in the future, as well as their capacity to form emotionally healthy close relationships with others. In the long term, these difficulties may extend into their professional life, influencing their capacity to cope with stress in academic and work settings, especially when faced with different types of stressors at the same time. 

Children of emotionally regulated parents often enjoy better health and success in life

Children raised in emotionally stable environments are more likely to develop robust physical and mental health and have lower levels of anxiety and depression. The secure foundation provided by emotionally regulated parents contributes to higher self-esteem and a positive attitude toward life. In terms of professional success, these children often exhibit better stress management skills, effective problem-solving abilities, and stronger interpersonal relationships. 

Emotionally regulated parents equip their children with the best chance to succeed in life, personally, interpersonally, and professionally, as they’re regarded positively by all those they encounter in life, maximizing their chances for a well-rounded and prosperous future.

Regulating your own emotions will benefit you, your child, and your parent-child relationship for years to come

By learning to manage your own emotions, you’ll be more able to think clearly, make sound decisions, and have healthy emotional and behavioral responses. This will improve your own physical and emotional health, and also model healthy responses for your children. You’ll also be more able to empathize with your children and better positioned to understand and respond appropriately to their needs. By mastering your own emotions, you’ll be a more effective parent, and more likely to enjoy a positive and secure parent-child relationship for many years to come. 

Tips to become a more emotionally regulated parent

As with most things, regulating your emotional responses begins with your own self-awareness. By slowing down and noticing how your emotions trigger your automatic behaviors, you can begin to learn strategies to manage your emotions more constructively. Give yourself permission to slow down and be present, and giving yourself the nurturing you need can help you maintain your composure. Good self-care, clear communication, improving your coping strategies, and maintaining a commitment to improving your relationship with your child form the foundation of effective parenting. 

Sometimes the best thing you can do is reach out for help

Even the most well-intentioned parents rarely possess all the skills they need to parent as well as they’d like to. Seeking guidance and support acknowledges that everyone can benefit from additional tools and strategies, and seeking help regulating your emotional responses is probably the most valuable investment you can make; for yourself, your children, and your entire family. 

If you need help improving your emotional regulation, call now for confidential support to help you be the best parent and the best person you can be.

Suggested reading information

Rutherford, H. J., Wallace, N. S., Laurent, H. K., & Mayes, L. C. (2015). Emotion regulation in parenthood. Developmental Review, 36, 1-14. The full article is available here.

Zimmer-Gembeck, M. J., Rudolph, J., Kerin, J., & Bohadana-Brown, G. (2022). Parent emotional regulation: A meta-analytic review of its association with parenting and child adjustment. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 46(1), 63-82.  Article is available here.